Sports / Orthopedic

A Journey to Healing: Laurencia’s Transformative Scoliosis Surgery

Dec 7 2023

In the heart of Richmond, Va., a remarkable story of resilience and collaboration that recently unfolded at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital.

Laurencia, a 25-year-old idiopathic scoliosis patient from Dominica, embarked on a transformative medical journey that defied the odds and highlighted the unwavering commitment of World Pediatric Project as well as the skilled hands of Chad Aarons, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Bon Secours Tuckahoe Orthopedics. Together, they illuminated a path of hope and healing.

A lifelong struggle

Laurencia’s journey began in childhood when she was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis—a spinal curvature affecting 0.5 percent to 5 percent of the population. Living in Dominica, she faced the daunting challenge of inadequate medical infrastructure for her complex condition. For many years, Laurencia has lived with scoliosis and in need of surgical intervention her homeland could not provide due to the lack of physicians trained to address her condition with either bracing or surgery.

Overcoming setbacks and finding a successful partnership

Laurencia was selected as a candidate for surgery through World Pediatric Project (WPP) and was scheduled to receive her surgery at 21 years old. However, there were delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed her surgery a few years and past the typical age limit for WPP assistance. However, both WPP and our ministry kept the commitment to Laurencia giving her a chance to overcome one of her greatest barriers in life.

Laurencia’s medical team at Bon Secours St. Mary’s hospital got to work, arranging pre-operative X-rays and utilizing the EOSedge, a full body, low dose radiation imaging scan. Throughout her hospitalization, Laurencia received high-quality care from start to finish by the pre-op, operating room, post-op and hospital floor team. Additionally, she stayed at the Bon Secours Evelyn D. Reinhart Guest House, which provided her a home away from home where Laurencia could rest before and after surgery.

Dr. Aarons provided additional insight into Laurencia’s condition, noting, “Surgery is performed when curves are greater than 45 degrees. Laurencia’s curve was 82 degrees before surgery. Larger curves carry greater risk with surgery, and therefore are safer to do in the United States.”

A posterior spinal fusion, a procedure involving screws and osteotomies to straighten and enhance spine flexibility, became the cornerstone of Laurencia’s transformation.

Moving forward, Dr. Aarons anticipates Laurencia’s surgery and rehabilitation will prevent further scoliosis progression, decreasing the risk of associated health issues and enhancing her overall quality of life.

“The successful procedure will prevent the chance of lung and heart issues from the severe curve, and it will also decrease the occurrence of back pain associated with the curve,” he explains.

And Dr. Aarons’ reflections extend beyond Laurencia’s case, highlighting the importance of early scoliosis identification globally to address severe cases like hers.

A grateful recovery

Currently wrapping up her recovery in Richmond, Laurencia is undergoing physical rehabilitation — a crucial step toward her anticipated return to Dominica this month. Her journey exemplifies the positive impact of the collaborative efforts of WPP and our ministry, further showing our commitment to accessible and compassionate care.

This holiday season, we are celebrating by spreading the good news! Read more thankful stories, like this one, that feature our team members, patients and the wonderful communities we are blessed to serve.

Learn more about the orthopedics and sports medicine services we provide at Bon Secours.

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