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Thalia: Free to Be Me!

From debilitating scoliosis to no limitations

Living in Haiti, Thalia wore a brace to address her scoliosis curve but it wasn’t enough. By the time she was 13 years old, she had to stop taking dance class and would become exhausted just playing with her friends.

“It was becoming harder and harder for me to breathe, and it was even difficult for me to sleep,” said Thalia. “I felt like I was losing my freedom.”

That’s when Thalia’s family knew they needed to take matters into their own hands. They traveled to the United States to find more advanced orthopaedic treatment and learned about Shriners Hospitals for Children.

In November 2019, Thalia and her father, Mesmin, took a chance and walked into the Springfield Shriners Hospital without an appointment. Orthopaedic surgeon James F. Mooney, III, M.D., chief of staff, recognized their desperation as well as the seriousness of Thalia’s condition.

“She had a very severe case of juvenile idiopathic scoliosis,” explained Dr. Mooney. “Her spinal curve was 120 degrees and, if untreated, the deformity would continue to progress and impact her heart and lungs.”

Dr. Mooney recommended Thalia undergo spinal fusion surgery, which would realign and fuse together her curved vertebrae. Prior to this complex surgery, first Thalia needed to be placed in halo-gravity traction to slowly stretch the spine and maximize the safety of the surgical procedure. This required a two-month stay in the hospital so that doctors could check her progress, make adjustments to the system and provide physical and occupational therapy.

“During her time in traction, it became apparent that the surgery would require access to critical care facilities not available at the Springfield hospital, so in February 2020, Thalia underwent her procedure at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia and has made a full recovery,” said Dr. Mooney. “We will continue to see her in Springfield for periodic follow-up and monitor her condition, but I do not anticipate her needing additional surgery in the future.”

“I know I wouldn’t be where I am right now without Shriners Hospital,” said Thalia. “Now, I’m back to doing the activities I love without limitations. Shriners Hospital gave me my freedom back!”

Thalia in halo traction

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