The Kids - Rachel
Rachel is a special little girl who was born with lipomeningomyelocoel, a form of spina bifida. Spina bifida is a malformation of the spinal column, and Rachel’s situation is that her spinal cord exits her spinal column in the area of her lower back, just below the waist line. A fatty tumor formed in this area – actually somewhat protecting the spinal cord. Due to the high risk of hydrocephalus, surgery was performed in Manaus, soon after Rachel’s birth.
The doctor’s prognosis after surgery was that she would never walk; however, Rachel’s middle name is Batalha, which means "battle," and Rachel is a fighter. Miraculously, even though Rachel has no feeling in her feet, her mother was able to teach her to walk. Typical of some spina bifida patients who have suffered spinal cord damage, Rachel has limited bowel and bladder control. In 1999, her doctor in Manaus determined that she needed to have surgery to reduce the size of the fatty tumor, but Rachel’s father had just recently been informed that there would be no more insurance coverage with his job. There was no way that they could afford the surgery. Their pastor knew of John Mark’s work helping children with health problems and contacted him at his home in Manaus.
Again, Dr. Good and John Mark went to work, and in October of 1999, Rachel and her mother, Ednelza, arrived in Springfield, where neurosurgeon Dr. Bert Park had agreed to perform the surgery to reduce the fatty tumor. The hospital staff, physicians, nurses, and therapists were great! After surgery and recovery, Rachel was fitted for a new pair of braces and her first pair of crutches and received many days of physical therapy.
The faithful group of First Baptist volunteers were there to help, along with the Levergoods, and Pinegar Motors helped with a vehicle again. Rachel and her mother stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and American Airlines helped with the domestic airfare. Also, First Hand Foundation of Kansas City, Missouri, helped to cover the cost of international airfare and incidental expenses. Rachel’s sweet spirit and Ednelza’s gratefulness touched everyone they met.
Rachel’s father, and brother, Hugo, were glad when Rachel and Ednelza returned home. With her new outlook and her new crutches, Rachel was ready to conquer "the world." Even before her trip to Springfield, Rachel had told her mother that when she grew up that she would like to be a doctor so that she could help people, even the ones that didn’t have money to pay. What an encouragement to us all.