Mom desperate to correct son’s birth defect

June 29, 2022

A mother is concerned about the physical and mental well-being of her 13-year-old son, who has been suffering through near-constant depression due to a rare congenital birth defect.

At six days old, Mark* was diagnosed with penoscrotal hypospadias, a condition in which the opening of the penis, which is usually located at the tip of the organ, is located where the shaft meets the scrotum. His mother, Renee, told THE STAR that although Mark maintains good grades in school and tries to keep his spirits high, he cannot fend off depressive episodes brought on by his condition.

"Sometime him say to me why him affi born so, him wah just go dung a sea and go chuck off. Him always tell me, and me try fi tell him nuh do that. Him teacher say him a go gi him counselling, but it nuh start yet," she said. "Sometime him cry, sometime him depressed. Him say him never even want me to come on the air, because is down there so (referring to his private parts), but we need the help, so me affi try and get some help."

Consultant urologist Dr Elon Thompson told THE STAR that the condition will have greater impact on one's quality of life the lower on the shaft the opening is, and may have long-term implications.

"It poses a significant challenge to quality of life because, essentially, what would happen is, you're passing urine through that opening, and in a lot of cases it requires surgical repair," he said. "If that condition is still present, it is going to be challenging because of where the specimen is going to come from. It is going to be challenging from a fertility standpoint if you have this persistent problem." To prevent this, Renee has made arrangements at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, in the US, for Mark to undergo corrective surgery. But she says she doesn't know how she will pay for the procedure, which costs US$44,415 (approximately $6.6 million). Looking back, Renee admitted that when doctors first discovered the abnormality, she assumed it would have been an easy fix. But four failed surgery attempts later, she is now concerned.

"I didn't think it [was] that serious, because when him do the first surgery him come out the same day. It never work still, but we try again," she recalled. "He is a young youth and I don't know if this is going affect him later on, so I'm very considerate about that." Regardless of his condition, Renee said that Mark still has dreams of one day becoming a surgeon.

"Him always a question the doctor and him give him advice. Him always a look up to him doctor and read up on it (his condition), so mi ask him if a chu him do so much surgery, him say yeah," she said.

*name changed to protect identity

Persons wishing to assist Mark may contact his mother, Renee, at (876) 857-4320.

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