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The fourth grader was in the hospital and missed his classmates. They missed him too. So all 66 of them came to visit.

"It was really important to us to show him he is in our hearts.”

by December 18, 2023

Fourth grader Mohammad Abdelrahman signals his love to the throng of classmates who came to visit.

It had been more than 10 weeks since Mohammad Abdelrahman, 9, interacted with his classmates.

He has had eight surgeries since being admitted to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt on Oct. 2 to repair an esophagopleural fistula.

But he recently got the biggest surprise since he arrived at the hospital — 66 grinning, waving and chanting fourth graders and three teachers greeted him through the large glass windows at the front of the hospital.

“He was really missing his friends and teachers,” said Rami Abdallah, Mohammad’s mother. “He had received cards from his classmates and the school, and we did a few things virtually, but you could just tell.

“It was really good for the students to see him, see his face and for him to see theirs.”

“I knew they couldn’t come to his floor to see him, so everyone got together to figure it out. This is just the motivation and inspiration he needed. He was starting to think everyone would forget him.”

That would be impossible, according to Hilary Clancy, Mohammad’s math teacher at McFadden School of Excellence in Murfreesboro. Mohammad has attended the school since kindergarten like most of his classmates.

“He is so precious,” said Clancy. “We really have missed him. We wanted him to know that he is very much a part of our community.

“There were a lot of people who helped make this work — it was really important to us to show him he is in our hearts.”

The class was scheduled to attend “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Nashville Children’s Theater. With the help of the school, parents and of course the bus driver, the field trip took a little detour.

“We talk about him all the time, make cards for him, and this time we made decorations for his room and his hospital floormates. It was really good for the students to see him, see his face and for him to see theirs,” Clancy said.

The waving students caught the eyes of passersby. Many stopping to take it all in with comments including, “I’ve got chills,” “Look at these sweet children” and the proverbial “Awww.”

Mohammad’s mother hopes her son will be able to go home in a few weeks.

“This visit, this display from his friends and teachers gave him such a huge smile,” said his mother. “They really made his day and mine too!”

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt