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Spotlight: I “Walk” With a Wheelchair

Rhona Lewis

Eleven-year-old Racheli Karp was born in Australia and now lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. She has blue eyes, a blond ponytail, and a wheelchair. When she talks and jokes, you forget about the wheelchair.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

illustration of racheliHi, Racheli. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure. In some ways I’m different from other kids and in other ways, I’m like a regular kid. Even though I have a wheelchair, I can do most things. I go to a regular school in Beit Shemesh called Magen Avot. In the younger grades, the school arranged trips which I could join, like a visit to the Coca Cola factory. This year, my class went on a hike, so I went to a nearby mall with my helper and met up with the class after the trip.

 

Have you always been in a wheelchair?

Yes. When I was four months old, my grandmother noticed something strange about my legs when she was bouncing me on her lap. My legs kept folding in. Something was obviously not right, so my parents took me to all kinds of doctors to find out about the problem. They said that I have something called spinal arteriovenous malformation, which is a tangle of arteries and nerves. (See sidebar.) I was too young to have an operation, so my parents were told to daven and wait, even though there was always the danger that this tangle might burst. We moved to Israel when I was two years old. When I turned seven, my body was strong enough to withstand an operation to prevent the tangle from bursting. My parents did a lot of research as only a few doctors in the world do this operation. Eventually they came to a decision: my mother and I were going to travel to a hospital in New York.

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