Michael: Never Give Up

Spinal Problems

Michael, an 11 year old boy, lives in Virginia Beach with his parents. Like most children his age, he wants to play without problems. However, his health prevents him from doing that. Michael has two spinal conditions.

Craniocervical instability, or CCI for short, is when the connective tissue in the head and neck is unusually weak. This can lead to nerve death, compressing the brain stem, and other complications. Syringomyelia is when cysts form in the spinal cord. This can cause chronic pain, loss of motor control, and scoliosis (when the spine curves sideways).

Surgery can successfully treat these two spinal conditions if they’re caught early enough. Michael wasn’t so lucky. “His local neurosurgeons didn’t see either of the conditions,” said Erin, Michael’s mother. “He can’t do the things a normal 11-year-old can do.”

Major Burdens…

As it turned out, the best doctor for Michael was in New York City, at Weill Cornell Medicine. However, the family is on a limited income. Both of his parents live with disabilities. Driving to New York City would take multiple hours. A round-trip flight would drain the family’s finances.

If the two conditions were left untreated, Michael’s quality of life would only deteriorate as time went on. Michael’s family was losing time – and hope.

…Now Lifted

Mercy Medical Angels was able to find Michael a flight to New York City. A partnership with American Airlines lifted the burden of paying for a round-trip flight. Dr. Greenville at Weill Cornell Medicine was able to help Michael.

A Bright Future

Michael’s two spinal conditions are undergoing treatment and getting better. Erin has hope for the future: “Someday, Michael will be able to do what his peers can do.”

Michael’s quality of life is increasing. Mercy Medical Angels and American Airlines will continue to help him travel to treatment. When children like Michael face challenges, Mercy Medical Angels empowers them to never give up.

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