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Thomas Baboolal operates with his toes

By Richardson Dhalai Saturday, August 23 2014

click on pic to zoom in
AT WORK: Thomas Baboolal, aged 13, of Chester Street, Debe, who was born without hands. As a result, he uses his toes to operate his laptop....
AT WORK: Thomas Baboolal, aged 13, of Chester Street, Debe, who was born without hands. As a result, he uses his toes to operate his laptop....

He was born without arms, a hip bone and has a spinal deformity. He only has the use of one functional leg.

However, while 13-year-old Thomas Baboolal can mutter words which the listener has to pay close attention to understand, this has not prevented him from enjoying his favourite hobby — playing music, or drawing on a laptop computer which he manipulates by using the toes on his right leg.

Baboolal, who celebrated his birthday on August 3 last, was born with Scoliosis which has stunted his growth.

Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side. Although it is a complex three-dimensional deformity, on an X-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with scoliosis can resemble an “S” or a “?”,(question mark), rather than a straight line.

Scoliosis is typically classified as either congenital (caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth), idiopathic (cause unknown, sub-classified as infantile, juvenile, adolescent, or adult, according to when onset occurred), or secondary, to a primary condition.

When Newsday visited his home yesterday at Chester Street, Debe, Baboolal at first seemed cranky and reluctant to speak having just gotten up from sleep. But as the interview progressed and with encouragement from his mother, Oumatie Seepersad-Baboolal, 47, he began to smile and eventually agreed to not only demonstrate his skills on a laptop computer, but also draw a picture of his father, Doodnath Baboolal, on the machine.

“I like to draw, and I like music,” the teenager said. Asked what was his favourite type of music, he quickly answered, “rap” before turning on the computer’s media player. a “rap” tune was soon playing on the machine.

His mother said the family was not able to send him to school, and instead, taught him to read, write and draw on the laptop.

“He cannot use a pencil so it is only through the laptop that he can write and draw pictures,” she said.

Regarding his treatment, she said he received treatment on December 13 last, and noted that doctors had recommended the use of prosthetic legs but she had objected to that, since it would involve the amputation of both his legs.

“He can use the right leg but not the left, and if they amputate both legs, he would not be able to write or draw on the computer so I told them no,” she said. She instead expressed the hope for a motorised wheelchair which would enable him to travel freely around the house.

“Right now he does use a motorised chair to move around, but the chair would give him more freedom, and he would be able to operate the knobs by using his feet,” she said.

She noted her son tries to be as independent as possible and would often make up his own bed and fold his own clothes which he demonstrated to the news team by gently holding the corner of a jersey and folding it into a square.

The family receives a special child grant of $850. The Baboolal’s have two other sons while the father, the family’s sole breadwinner, is employed as a labourer.

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