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Yessica's Story: Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Global Outreach Program

Yessica learned she had scoliosis when she was 10 years old. Growing up in Colombia, South America, she did not have many options for treatment. By the time she was 12 years old, her spinal curvature increased to over 120 degrees, so nonoperative approaches were not possible. Despite knowing curves of this magnitude were potentially life threatening, several spinal specialists felt nothing could be done to correct her scoliosis. Her family began to lose hope.

Cali, Colombia
Cali, Colombia

Luckily, Yessica learned a team of scoliosis experts sponsored by the Scoliosis Research Society regularly participated in pediatric spinal missions in her country. She worked closely with a local nonprofit - Fundación Casa de Colombia - and SpineHope to see if she would be a surgical candidate. Local spine specialists prepared Yessica and her family for the upcoming trip.

The team performed a number of studies. "We felt the surgery was very complex, but possible," said her doctor. Yessica's mother emphasized, "We were very happy to know a team of experts were confident they could help her when local surgeons could not."

Team SpineHope
Team SpineHope

Most surgeries of this type require 4-6 hours in the operating room, and a 3-5 day hospital stay. However, due to the severity and rigidity of her curves, Yessica had to spend additional time in the hospital to gently stretch her spine prior to surgery. "I felt myself growing every day, and this made it easier for me to breathe," said Yessica. On the day of surgery, the spinal specialists were very happy they could successfully straighten her curve in a single procedure.

Immediately after surgery, she could not believe how tall she was! "My spine felt straight, and I no longer had a large rib hump on my back," said Yessica. Her mother cried with happiness the first time she stood up after surgery.

Fundación Valle del Lili (Hospital)
Fundación Valle del Lili (Hospital)

It took some time to get used to her new body. She grew approximately 6 inches and no longer leaned to the side. Amazingly, within two weeks she did not need any more pain medication. Yessica was surprised she did not need a brace after her surgery, and she had no activity restriction. This allowed her to recovery much faster.

Now 1 year after surgery, Yessica is very happy with the way she looks. She regularly plays sports, and loves to dance.

For more information about SRS Global Outreach trips around the world, please click here.