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Health care: WES student still upbeat after 14 surgeries
By Nikki Best
She’s always smiling.
The attitude of Reagan Greene, an adventurous 8-year-old Waccamaw Elementary School student is a positive one. But Reagan is someone who has good cause to grimace. Reagan was born addicted to drugs and with two club feet. She has endured 14 surgeries, including a below-knee amputation, in the last three years.
“Reagan has done nothing but be an inspiration to all of us,” Carolyn Baker, Reagan’s second-grade teacher, said.
Just before her fifth birthday, on January 3, 2014, Reagan and her three sisters were dropped off by their mother and she hasn’t been back since. Phyllis Greene of Murrells Inlet, their grandmother, became the sisters’ legal guardian. According to Greene, Reagan’s mother took her to get surgeries at first, but stopped at some point and never took her to the doctor again. The last one Reagan’s mother took her to involved the insertion of steel rods into Reagan’s feet and ankles, but a lack of follow up care did a lot of damage to the tissue and bones.
“It’s been a tough time,” Greene said.
Years of neglect had placed the four children in precarious situations, but Reagan’s health issues led Greene’s attorney to secure a court order allowing her treatment to begin before custody was granted.
“We did get custody of her, of all of them,” Greene said. “It took two years.”
Reagan’s treatments take her all over South Carolina. Her orthopedic surgeon is in Florence. Her endocrinologist, hematologist, and soon-to-be geneticist are in Charleston at MUSC. Her prosthetist is in Greenville at the Shriners Hospital.
“It adds up quick,” Greene said. “We’ve had to take out so many loans.”
Greene’s husband works for Marriott and for her medical care, Reagan is enrolled in Medicaid. Travel for appointments, hotel rooms, meals and other expenses are beginning to overwhelm the family. That’s where Waccamaw Elementary and Reagan’s class stepped up.
“This school, Ms. [Vervatine] Reid, all of them have been so good to her,” Greene said. “Ms. Baker has really been working hard on this GoFundMe with me.”
Baker cares for all her students. She says they’re like a little family in her class. Reagan missed a little more than a month of school this year leading up to, and following her amputation.
“The students embrace her,” Baker said of Reagan’s relationship with her class. “When she was gone, they missed her.”
Reagan has one more operation slated for her right foot and is waiting for an infection to clear up where her ankle was amputated on the left. She will then be fitted for a prosthetic and doctors will begin to explore why she isn’t growing. At 3 feet 7 inches, she is the shortest in her class.
“She’s maybe grown one inch in the last two years,” Greene said.
In the face of all these challenges Reagan continues to be optimistic.
“I want to be a dance teacher,” she said when asked what she wants to be when she grows up.
She’s an excellent student, on the A/B honor roll. She wants to be a dancer and to play soccer. She dearly wants to wear a pair of green flip flops. She’s quick in her wheelchair and quicker on her walker. If it’s possible for her, Reagan can do it herself. And she does it with a smile.
To help support Reagan go to gofundme.com/reagansmedicalfund.
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