Radio griot appeals for help in fighting son’s blindness

Radio broadcaster Imhotep Gary Byrd recently issued an appeal for help to caring and considerate individuals who are willing to aid him in his quest to pursue alternative treatment for his son whose sight has been declining.

The host of programs aired on three NYC radio stations – WBLS, WLIB and WBAI – acclaimed for being a radio griot made a heartfelt request to listeners to contribute to Khamit Byrd’s health needs by donating to fund stem cell treatment that could reverse the debilitating macular condition.

Throughout 40 years since he started, Byrd hosted programs on WWRL-AM and for a period co-helmed a morning Caribbean show aired on WLIB.

Recently he made this appeal:

“Greetings! My name is Imhotep Gary Byrd. Some of you may have heard of me. I host the longest running Black radio program in New York City and in New York State: “The Global Black Experience,” AKA “The GBE.”

My broadcasts are aired on WLIB-AM, WBLS-FM, and WBAI-FM.

However, I am writing to you today on a personal matter involving my youngest son, Khamit Byrd. Khamit is the engineer of my weekly Sunday night WLIB broadcast: “Imhotep Gary Byrd’s GBE Mind Flight.”

That is until recently, when he was forced to take a leave of absence from his duties with our show because of a condition called Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). DME affects the eyes and the eyesight of thousands of diabetics across the country.

You see, Khamit has been a juvenile diabetic / insulin dependent since he was 12. Recently over the course of last year, Khamit was given a drug called Avastin, which ironically, was given to him and other diabetics around the country to “help” them in dealing with the destructive complication of diabetes. Khamit took the drug over a period of five months, given by eye injection, by his doctors at a highly regarded New York City Hospital and was alarmed to find that his eyesight was not improving but began to get worse. Khamit stopped using the drug after five injections (given monthly) and still noticed that there were continual problems developing with his eyesight. In doing further research on Avastin, I discovered that it was a breast cancer drug, which had never been approved for usage in Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Upon further research, I found that Avastin had caused various levels of damage to the eye and in some cases caused blindness (as reported by the New York Times).

Khamit has had a range of serious problems related to his eyesight since taking the shots. As I mentioned before, he was forced to take a leave of absence because of the loss of “visual acuity.”

Khamit’s high standard of professional excellence has suffered. Watching him go through this experience has been agonizing. But to see him in the prayer and meditation, which we both do daily, and to see him still smile has given me an even higher level of faith. My own relationship with the Most High is stronger, and so is my conviction that “with God all things are possible.” With his vision steadily deteriorating, and under the threat of frightening possibilities, we consulted with several well respected doctors. They suggested that Khamit’s best opportunity for restoring his vision and perhaps preventing possible blindness is for him to receive Stem Cell Transplant Surgery. Stem Cell Transplants are being touted as the most promising possibility for diabetics in Khamit’s position (see attachment).

This stem cell surgery, still not available yet in the United States, is available in Mexico at several well respected medical centers, including Integra Medical Center. The center has well-respected physicians who specialize in the transplant surgery needed. However, it is an expensive process and hence my appeal. We simply do not have the financial resources to provide Khamit with what may be the primary opportunity for him to restore his sight and to save his quality of life.

I am personally requesting that any of you who “care” about the emergency that our family is facing, to donate whatever you can to our campaign in order to give Khamit a chance at beating blindness.”

A website has been set up with a medical fundraising organization for Khamit at: www.youcaring.com

Those of you who wish to send greetings or leave messages can do by calling 212-592-3279.

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