Thanksgiving Day is a time rich in family, gratitude and appreciation. In honor of the holiday, we are celebrating the patient families who have traveled through our doors and the selfless acts of kindness and volunteerism that follow.
Donating platelets and cycling for a cause
Ten years ago, Adam Nussenbaum’s son, Max, was treated at Boston Children’s and overcame a life threatening illness. Today, Adam gives his time — and platelets — to help those in need, and he is doing so in celebration of Max; his daughter Kate, who donated her bone marrow to help her brother; and the clinicians, who made his son’s recovery possible.
For the past eight years, Adam has participated in the Pan Mass Challenge and raised over $55,000 to benefit the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Center at Boston Children’s. He also donates platelets on a monthly basis.
“It has been immensely gratifying to know that I have and will continue to play a small role in helping patients like Max on their road to recovery,” he says.
When you look Abby DiCocco, a 13-year-old from Clifton Park, N.Y, it’s hard to believe that the rising eighth grader, avid swimmer and budding triathlete ever had any problems with her spine.
Abby was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was in first grade and had surgery to remove a Chiari malformation, an abnormal meeting between the brain and spinal cord, at Boston Children’s Hospital.
One year after that surgery, Abby’s orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Emans, director of the Boston Children’s Spinal Program, prescribed a brace to treat her scoliosis. However, despite everyone’s best efforts, Abby’s scoliosis progressed as she grew, and her curve reached 65 degrees by age 11.
That’s when Emans suggested a new option — MAGEC surgery. Remote-controlled magnetic rods are surgically implanted into the spine and periodically lengthened to treat early-onset scoliosis. Abby was the first at Boston Children’s to receive this surgery, which reduced her curve from 65 to 10 degrees.
Meet Meghan Dwyer — a typical busy high school student who loves field hockey, Disney movies and dance. Like thousands of other Massachusetts middle and high school students, Meghan participated in regular well-child and school screenings for scoliosis. Everything checked out fine.
Early in Meghan’s sophomore year; however, her mother Tricia, a nurse, noticed her daughter’s back appeared a bit crooked. She made an appointment with Dr. Dan Hedequist, an orthopedic surgeon in the Boston Children’s Hospital Spinal Program. “We didn’t think the curve was too bad and were shocked to find out it had progressed to 50 degrees,” recalls Tricia.
With a 50-degree curve, Meghan needed spinal fusion surgery. Less than 1 percent of girls with scoliosis have curves that require surgery, says Hedequist.
The Dwyers scheduled Meghan’s surgery for June 15, 2015, shortly before the end of her sophomore year.
Nearly one year after her surgery, Meghan is brimming with advice for other teens. …
It’s that time of year. As children head off to school every fall, they’ll undergo a series of health screenings. Massachusetts requires public schools to conduct the following screenings: body mass index (or BMI), vision, hearing and scoliosis.