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VBT Friends Forever

Two patients connect over having the same surgery at Shriners Children's Philadelphia.
Lou Lou and Macie

Lou Lou and Macie the day after surgery

Nothing is better than going through a difficult time or experience with someone who’s going through the same thing as you.

Many of our patients often meet and make lifelong friends when they come to Shriners Children’s Philadelphia. Macie and Lou Lou share a very special bond after having the same surgery on the same day at the hospital.

A few weeks before the girls’ surgeries, Macie’s mom Michelle reached out to Lou Lou’s mom Julie on a Facebook group about vertebral body tethering (VBT) surgery. Michelle noticed that her daughter was having surgery on the same day, at the same hospital, with the same surgeon, Amer Samdani, M.D.

The mothers exchanged messages and thought it would be a good idea for them to meet in person on their surgery day. Macie’s surgery was first, and the moms met in the waiting room while she was in surgery and Lou Lou was being prepped for her afternoon surgery. They hit it off right away.

“It was so nice to be there for each other as we helped our girls face their surgeries and recoveries,” said Julie.

Shortly after waking up from their surgeries, the girls began texting each other while still lying in bed in the pediatric intensive care unit. They sympathized with each about the painful chest tubes, sore hands from IVs, and nausea from the pain medication. They also celebrated victories with each other as they reached important milestones in their recoveries and ability to go home.

Once the girls had all their tubes, IVs, and monitors disconnected, they were so excited to be able to spend time with each other! Together, they were able to go outside on the terrace, eat together in the cafeteria, and even work with the art therapist to create some fun Halloween paintings.

“Michelle and I were in constant awe of how our girls supported and cared for each other,” said Julie. “There were moments when we seemingly forgot that we were at a children's hospital with our brave scoliosis warriors who were recovering from major spine surgeries. It felt like we were just regular "mom friends" who were just hanging out with our girls. I know we will always cherish these special moments.”

Both girls have athletic backgrounds. Lou Lou is a dancer and Macie is a top softball pitcher in her age group. Both girls would be devastated if they could no longer participate in their sports due to some of the physical limitations associated with spinal fusion surgery. Both families were relieved to find VBT as an option for their young daughters.

Being able to return to dancing after VBT surgery means everything to me!
Lou Lou

“Dance is my life!" said Lou Lou. "I'm so grateful to have had VBT because I can bend, move and twist my spine without any limitations, which is very important for a dancer."

“It feels great to still be able to play softball after VBT,” said Macie. “Softball is life and it's amazing how quickly I can go back to doing what I love! Having VBT surgery made it possible for me to have full mobility of my spine. Being a pitcher I have to be able to twist and turn and VBT has made all of that possible. I am thankful for Dr. Samdani."

It did not take long for word to spread throughout the hospitals about the girls' beautiful and inspiring friendship. Several staff members were touched by the families’ story of friendship.

“The friendship that Macie and Lou Lou developed while undergoing major spine surgery speaks to the nurturing family feel of our hospital," said Dr. Samdani. “The postoperative period is often very challenging, and the fact that they both developed such a great friendship is also an attestation to how amazing both of these girls are.”

“We may live 1,000 miles apart, but we will forever be connected by the experiences we shared at Shriners Philly,” said Lou Lou. “We will miss each other a lot, but I know we will stay in touch and remain 'VBT' friends forever.”

Learn more about our scoliosis care.

Athletic Patients Can't Wait to Get Back to Their Sports

See Lou Lou and Macie back in action.

Lou Lou in dance pose

Lou Lou at her most recent dance photoshoot

Macie pitching ball

Macie pitches the ball

Lou Lou sitting

Lou Lou strikes an artistic pose

Macie pitching ball

Macie preparing to throw the ball

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