Kids are the Real Superheroes at Spaulding

By Seth Daniel

Just a few months removed from near death, Michael Sassine – a teenage patient at Spaulding in Charlestown was high-fiving Spider Man during a special event at the Spaulding on Tuesday. Characters from the upcoming Boston Comic Con were on hand to encourage patients at the Spaulding during the special event.

Spaulding Rehab patient Michael Sassine wasn’t supposed to even still be alive, but this week, the young man was not only alive, but he was high-fiving Spider Man.

Earlier this year, Sassine had not a care in the world, but in February, the young man got pneumonia that nearly took his life.

Doctors told his family that he would likely not make it, and they would do what they could, but the prognosis wasn’t good.

It was sudden and dire news.

However, Sassine has become known as the miracle boy of Charlestown’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and this week, his journey from near death progressed to celebrating the afternoon with super heroes from the Boston Comic Con festival, which will take place on Aug. 11-13 in Boston.

“They call him the miracle,” said his sister, Marie Sassine. “He had a Code Red, and they did everything they could to save him. In doing that, an artery was hit. They didn’t think he would make it. They said he probably wouldn’t last more than three days. Now here he is with all of these super heroes. They have no idea how the bleeding in his brain stopped. Things like this mean so much for someone whose been through so much in such a short time – so many procedures, surgeries and doctors appointments.”

As she spoke, Michael played a beanbag toss-game with Batman.

It didn’t get much better than that for a teenage boy.

The event on Tuesday afternoon in the Spaulding Rehab was meant to cheer up the young people and the adults who are trying to make a comeback after a serious illness or sickness.

Last year, the super heroes appeared at the Spaulding and visited with devoted fan Matt Limoli – who attended the super hero gathering last year, but was not physically able to attend the Comic Con.

This year, still at Spaulding but doing much better, Limoli accepted a three-day pass and a special T-shirt from Wonder Woman.

Meanwhile, a new type of super hero was also busting out of his chains during the event – that being Spaulding patient Mohammad Sayed who has created ‘Wheelchair Man.’

Sayed is originally from Afghanistan, and came to the Spaulding to get work on his back. Now living in Watertown and still coming for treatment at Spaulding, Sayed teamed up with Somerville’s Arielle Epstein to create the new character that is very appropriate for the hospital.

“Wheelchair Man is different because he is able to deter criminals from crime before they commit it,” he said. “He also doesn’t believe in violence.”

Sayed said he conceived of the character after going to a Comic Con and seeing there were no representatives from the wheelchair community.

“We are actually the true heroes, and we are the ones who never give up,” he said. “I met Arielle and we started creating Wheelchair Man and now we’re working on Wheelchair Woman…Soon, we hope to have a booth at Comic Con.”

Such stories can seem commonplace at Charlestown’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where regular people overcome major odds all the time.

On Tuesday, as the heroes mixed with the patients, it suddenly became hard to tell who were the heroes and who were the patients.

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