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Jan 12, 2017

Tarell Sutherland’s fight against skin condition continues

For years, we have been following Tarell Sutherland. He is the young boy who was born with a rare skin condition that is incurable. Despite this prognosis, his family has not given up hope. Earlier today, we checked in with him and found that he has been relapsing. Like so many other families, the Sutherlands are stretched thin even as they struggle to allow him the experiences of a normal life. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

An eleven-year-old boy from Libertad in northern Belize is currently admitted to the pediatric ward at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for a rare skin condition. Only one other case has been detected in Belize, but that baby died at four months. Tarell Sutherland was born with what is known as Bolo Ichthyosis; we first met him and his mother back in 2009.

 

Tarell Sutherland

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Pediatrician

“He was diagnosed very early at birth and he has hyperkeratotic bolo ichthyosis—it is a skin condition that he was born with—it is incurable; it is something that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. To simplify it, what happens is that the upper layer of his skin, the keratin layer is being made at a much higher rate that mine and yours. So what happens is that plaques form, they scale off and in within those plaques that look like thick pair of dry skin, there are grooves and without those grooves, it is wet, dark, moist and it’s a perfect area for bacteria to grow.”

 

Nicole McDougal, Mother of Tarell Sutherland

“Six hours after Tarell was born, he stripped all the skin off the body from head to toe; he stayed like when you get burn with just a lot of substance pushing from the body. He’s now eleven years old and still living with the condition.”

 

Nicole McDougal

Medication decreases the layer of the plaque and Tarell takes antibiotics and special baths daily. But seven years ago and with help from a U.S. military unit, his mother Nicole McDougal managed to secure free medical treatment for her son in Louisiana. Since he’s been back and despite treatment, Tarell has been having relapses and since October, he’s been in and out of the hospital.

 

Nicole McDougal

“Since October, he’s been back and forth. I notice that the heat, our climate has a lot to deal with it as well. Sometimes he would be good today, and by this evening, he starts with one blister and by tomorrow that whole area is affected. How it happens, only god knows. I try at all times to always keep him on his meds. It is not really healthy for him taking too many antibiotics, but we have no choice if we want him not having a lot of infections.”

 

Cecilio Eck

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Presently what is happening is that he is having an issue with an infection on his right foot. The area is infected, pus forms, the body tries to fight it. We know mom has tried in the past with baths and antibiotics that she gives him to prevent these types of infections. But in certain situations, even with the best of that type of cure even at first world countries under the best pediatric dermatologist, it is still happening.”

 

According to Pediatrician, Doctor Cecilio Eck, his condition is sensitive because a complex infection can be life-threatening for Tarell. While there are dermatology services locally—and arguably the best in the region—it is recommended that Tarell seeks medical treatment overseas where there are facilities that deal with cases like his.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“The reason to get out to the center would be to get him to a center where they see kids like him with this condition on a daily basis, where they know the latest medications that they can use, newer medications to treat it…emollients and creams and baths that can work best in situation like this.”

 

The struggle is real for McDougal who says that some days, her son is in so much pain – but she tries to give him the best experience as a child.

 

Nicole McDougal

“Even though I am used to it for eleven years, sometimes it really hurts and sometimes there are days that I really can’t handle it but still I try to do my best because that’s my child and there is no way I can give up on him—not now, not never. Sometimes my family would rail up because they say I have him going up the street playing football, but we have to realize that he is a kid and sometimes he just wanna live a normal life just like any other child; which in, we know that he can’t do that.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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