Morgan Suchin knows what it’s like to feel isolated and be afraid because of a medical condition.
A Pikesville resident and University of Virginia freshman, Suchin was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance at age 6 that inhibited her growth.
Late last year, she and her younger brother, Sam, founded Codyy.org, a digital forum where people with a variety of medical and mental health concerns can find support.
Recently, Suchin, 19, who belongs to Chizuk Amuno Congregation, added a COVID-19 forum to the website.
“I think now is the perfect time for people to join Codyy because of COVID-19,” she says. “People on the forum have been talking about fear and how to get through this time. We’re all isolated, not able to see our friends and not able to find support. We don’t know how long this will last and we want people to know someone’s out there to help you.”
The qualities of compassion and empathy come quite naturally to Suchin. “Growing up, I was always the smallest kid in the class,” she says.
She remembers her first growth hormone injection, as well as the accompanying pain and tears.
“My life became injections, blood tests, X-rays, injections, steroids, even acupuncture and herbal supplements,” she says. “I felt isolated and alone. There was no one I could talk to who understood what I was going through.”
Though allowed to discontinue treatments when she was 13, Suchin continues to monitor her hormone levels and maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle. She says she was fortunate that her medical condition was not life-threatening.
Nevertheless, her childhood experiences made an indelible impression on her. When she was 16, Suchin volunteered at an overnight camp for children with skin disorders called Camp Discovery.
“One night, the campers and I were camping out,” she says. “It was around 2 a.m. and the campers thought I was asleep, but I heard them talking. One of them said, ‘I just love it here. I met someone who has alopecia, and I never met anyone who has it before.’ That’s when I realized something needed to be done. Everyone feels isolated at times for medical or mental health reasons. I had this idea to form a community for kids, teens, anyone.”
Suchin soon approached Sam, whom she calls “a computer genius,” about creating the website. He welcomed the opportunity to help his sister while improving his own website designing skills.
Named for a family friend, Codyy.org is an anonymous forum where anyone can talk about their experiences, feelings and diagnoses, says Suchin.
“Codyy is a place to talk about our fears,” she says.
Suchin, who plans a career as a pediatric dermatologist, says she hopes the website is just part of a larger effort to form communities for people with health concerns. Recently, she contacted administrators at the University of Virginia to discuss the possibility of starting a Codyy club on campus in the fall.
“They were excited and loved the idea,” says Suchin. “My goal is a club that meets twice a week to talk about medical issues. I’d also like to see clubs at children’s hospitals like UVA Children’s Hospital and on other campuses.”
Currently, Suchin and her brother monitor the website on a regular basis. “But we’d love to have someone who has each illness and can speak from personal experience act as liaisons and monitors of each forum,” she says. “I’ve also been in contact with one girl in California who has rheumatoid arthritis, and another girl who has juvenile diabetes. We’d love to have them join and become Codyy ambassadors.
“We want people to join because we really think this can benefit people.”
For information, visit Codyy.org.