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Plea for help for teen with cerebral palsy

Jonathan Marshall-Symonds hasn't left home in months.

The 17-year-old has cerebral palsy and has outgrown the family car, his only means of transport. It's kept him from going to school and church and from doing any extra-curricular activities.

His mother Sheila Marshall said they cannot afford the necessary wheelchair-accessible van without outside support.

They found one for sale for $30,000 on Emoo — but it's still too much.

“Basically we're stuck at home,” she said. “We haven't gone anywhere.

“He can't get out and it's seriously like confinement. We have no transportation. He hasn't even been back to school at Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy since April of last year.

“He is in his bed 90 per cent of the time right now, and if he's not there he will go in his chair.”

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects movement and co-ordination. Jonathan is confined to a wheelchair and has difficulty learning. He also suffered from a severe curvature of the spine.

It curved 118 degrees into his stomach, constricted his breathing and affected his bowels and his ability to eat. It also damaged his ribs.

Doctors at Boston Children's Hospital were able to straighten out the curve last summer by placing a brace called a halo on his head. A rod, which runs from the nape of his neck to the base of his spine, helps.

“After the surgery he went 100 per cent straight,” Ms Marshall said. “It also helped with his breathing and everything.”

Then came another problem: he became too tall to fit into the family's car. His height increased so much after the surgery they couldn't get him into the car without hurting him.

“One day I had picked him up to put him in the front seat of the car, because there was no way I could get him in the back anymore, and his leg broke right in my hands,” Ms Marshall said.

“It just popped and at first I thought I may have dislocated his hip. I didn't know anything about that.

“He was sitting in the car by then so I took him straight to the doctor. The doctor wasn't sure what had happened so they rushed Jonathan straight to the hospital and did an X-ray. We had a doctor's appointment that day anyway. That's when I found out that his left femur was broken right above his knee.”

She discovered that Jonathan's bones had become brittle through a calcium deficiency. The teenager is at risk for injury anytime they aren't careful.

“If he has an arm out of his chair and someone knocks into him at the grocery store they could break his arm,” Ms Marshall said.

“Jonathan didn't even seem to care when that happened. He just looked at me and said, ‘It's okay mommy'.

“But I couldn't help it, I started crying. I felt like a failure because you don't plan on hurting your own child. The doctors said it wasn't my fault, but it takes you through a whole bunch of emotions.”

Staying inside has really impacted her son's mood, Ms Marshall added.

“He sometimes gets depressed. He loves to be around other people.

“He doesn't like to feel like he's disappointing anyone, but he feels like this is upsetting to everyone and he doesn't like that.

“He goes out of his way to try to make you feel better even though he's the one that doesn't feel too great.”

They are hoping the community will band together to help them to raise the necessary funds so they can get Jonathan back to his normal routine.

• Donate to Butterfield Bank #0601312470011, HSBC # 002054856012 or www.gofundme.com/nt4umo.

• Any money raised in excess of the price of the car will go towards Jonathan's medical equipment.

• Contact Ms Marshall on 293-5665.

Jonathan Marshall-Symonds' family is looking for a wheelchair-accessible car to transport him around

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Published March 04, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated March 05, 2015 at 12:50 pm)

Plea for help for teen with cerebral palsy

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