I recently learned about a very special story and need for help from Zak Kissel, a disabled youngster in Longmont, Colorado. Here is his story from his own I’ve Got Zak’s Back website:
My name is Zak. I am a 4th grader who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Because of my weakening muscles and constant seated position, my spine is curving sharply in two areas (top and bottom).
On June 18, 2007, I will have spinal fusion surgery to straighten my spine. I will have 2 titanium rods permanently attached on either side of my spine – from my tail bone to my shoulders. This will support my spine and at the same time reduce the turning radius in my back. Although the rods will prevent my trunk height from growing, it will only shorten my overall height by 2”. This surgery is necessary in order for me to maintain lung capacity as well as extend my overall health.
My mom, Megan, is a single parent without any child support. She will be responsible for part of my surgery cost that is not covered by insurance. There will be additional expenses for adaptive equipment and general transferring items.
My mom also needs to purchase a van with a lift to transport me after the surgery and in the future. Right now she is manually transferring me in and out of an old Jeep, but because of the delicate and extensive surgery, she will no longer be able to do so.
She’s got Zak’s back – Tough mom devises campaign to support disabled son
By Pam Mellskog, The Daily Times-Call
LONGMONT — Given the way 120-pound Megan Kissel dead lifts her 106-pound son Zak Kissel from the floor to his wheelchair, or to the couch, or to the toilet, she looks Navy SEAL-tough. “I’m there acting as his arms and legs,” she said.
However, Megan Kissel, 28, would be the first to call her boy tougher. Over the years, Zak Kissel, 10, has broken both legs, both arms and his nose from falls related to instability caused by Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
In childhood, the genetic degenerative disease stymies the body’s production of dystrophin, a protein needed to maintain muscle cells and strength.
The Fall River Elementary School fourth-grader avoids pity-party talk to get on with his life as best as he can. He rides a power wheelchair at school and brings his golden retriever Genny, a frisky service dog, to fetch the things he drops. He earns a B average, loves playing hockey video games with his friends after school, dreams of being a cop and got a temporary Spider-man tattoo on his left forearm.
Zak Kissel’s determination — and his mother’s grit in caring for him and carrying him everywhere — kept them together and financially independent until February 2006. That’s when Zak Kissel took his last steps before switching from part-time to full-time wheelchair use. It spared him falls but intensified the pressure on his back, which worsened the curve of his spine from 11 percent in August 2006 to 35 percent in January.
In mid-June, he will undergo a five-hour surgery to get titanium rods inserted in his back to keep his belly button from resting on his thigh.
Zak’s mom has been doing all she can to raise monies, selling I’ve Got Zak’s Back T-shirts through Zak’s website and organizing a fun event this Saturday at the Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, that includes two bicycle rides, a chili cook-off and a silent auction supported by merchants and Fall River students.
Learn more & see how you can help!