12-year-old diagnosed with blood cancer seeks urgent help

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By Shena Henry

Twelve-year-old Ezekiel Harris of Cummings Street, Alberttown, Georgetown is currently battling two health conditions at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

Ezekiel was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) some three weeks ago. AML is a cancer of blood and bone marrow – the spongy soft tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

According to cancer.org, the 5-year survival rate for children under the age of 15 with AML is 66% while the 5-year survival rate in adults in one percent higher.

In January 2020, Ezekiel was first diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Medical journals indicate that the most common type of arthritis in children under the age of 16 and causes persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

In an interview with the News Room on Monday, Ezekiel’s mother, Dekesha Vallet, explained that her son is unable to be treated locally since he has multiple morbidities.

“He needs a private hospital that has enough equipment to treat him for the cancer. Right now they’re giving him Morphine, they’re giving him Omeprazole for his stomach-to protect from any reaction- and they’re giving him Prednisolone for the joints,” Vallet stated. Vallet is a single mother and worked as a market vendor until she was forced to quit to take care of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel’s mother, Dekesha Vallet

The AML diagnosis comes two weeks after the teen was hospitalized with severe pains. The mother explained that doctors recommended a bone marrow test after his platelets started dropping.

The results showed more than 20% of cancer cells in the blood and the mother said doctors have now listed his condition as critical.

Prior to becoming ill, Vallet said her son loved to play and was very friendly. Now he is in so much pain that he is unable to move.

The mother of four further explained that in December 2019, Ezekiel started crying out for pains in the neck but she had initially thought it was ‘stiff neck’ but after the pain progressed she took him to the hospital where he was hospitalized for three days and subsequently diagnosed with arthritis.

Since then, the young lad has been in and out of the hospital.

According to the mother, doctors have recommend treatment overseas but before this can happen, Ezekiel needs to be admitted to a facility that can treat both the arthritis and cancer.

The woman said she had to stop selling in the market due to his health condition and now receives support from her family.

“To me, it {the cancer} was there and it wasn’t diagnosed. Because it’s a year he has had it for. He got the arthritis – cause that’s what we know it as- and then lately, they diagnosed him with the cancer. So, he gets the pain more often now than before,” she added.

Ezekiel was able to attend school and write the National Grade Six Assessment with the arthritis but on the night of his final exam, he fell ill and was rushed to the hospital.

His mother said he never exhibited any signs or symptoms being severely ill prior to being diagnosed with both health conditions.

In the meantime, Ezekiel’s health condition is getting worse and it continues to take a toll on the family emotionally and financially.

In an effort to save her son’s life and pay for his medical expenses, Vallet is requesting the public’s assistance.

She explained that persons can assist by donating o negative blood, while persons willing to contribute to the family in any other way can contact +592 629 0100. Persons can also donate directly to Republic Bank Account number: 962951361294.

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