The 12-year-old bringing relief to desperate kids in pain


It was a normal spring day when Jed Kagan returned home from school to play cricket with his brother. Then his knee started to hurt. In excruciating pain, the 10-year-old was rushed to the emergency room. Doctors diagnosed him with strep, a bacteria that causes inflammation. But crutches and medication were not working as they should have. After countless attempts to determine the cause of Kagan’s suffering, he finally received a rare diagnosis: complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Kagan is only the 10th child in Africa to be treated for the disease. CRPS can be caused by a nerve injury, and results in severe pain, extreme sensitivity, swelling and difficulty moving. The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is one of the few hospitals equipped to deal with the rare illness. Before Kagan was diagnosed, he was bedridden and on multiple medications. The hospital helped him get back to being the exuberant young boy he is. Kagan and his family are now giving back with their initiative, Jedi Tedi.

Created by Kagan’s mother, Shana, the NPO creates colourful handmade teddy bears to raise funds for the Red Cross Hospital. The bears are made by a group of retired grannies and volunteers, and serve to create awareness around the syndrome. It’s also providing encouragement to children battling difficult illnesses. “When the children receive their teddies they feel a sense of comfort and a beacon of hope,” Kagan says. Now 12, he hopes to give 365 children their very own Jedi Tedi bears. “My family, friends and doctors gave me a lot of love when I was sick,” Kagan says. “Love made me feel better, so I want to share that love with others too.”