For all those lucky enough to cross paths with Tommy, you know how extraordinary he is... he is constantly defying the odds and making the impossible seem not only possible, but reachable. Many of you do not know the pain that Tommy lives in every day and has endured for the last 25+ years of his life. Tommy has severe scoliosis with significant trunk shift measured at 80 degrees. Upon looking at him, many do not see this curve. Being the dancer that Tommy is, he's able to self-correct his posture to appear as "normal" as possible. This self-correction that he maintains puts a lot of stress on his back, limbs and organs. Tommy often cannot feel his feet. He often has spasms in his left lower rib as it rubs against his pelvic bone. He's often sick due to his curvature crushing his organs. But he goes on with his day and plays it off as though nothing is wrong. He's always "never better." I watch him in agony every day and it's easy to forget the consistent pain that Tommy feels. For him, its unfortunately commonplace. The History
Tommy has tried every approach possible throughout the years. Whether it be the boston brace, stretching day after day on Aaron Mattes' torture table, studies and research programs, chiropractors, acupuncture, and so much more, Tommy exhausted all of his options...except one. There was always the option of surgery, but Tommy, being the free-spirited, independent dancer that he is, vowed never to do a surgery that fused him together and restricted him from doing what he loved---even if that meant taking years off his life and living in constant pain. Medical Miracle
So why am I asking for your help... Tommy's mom, Michele, got wind of a new, cutting edge surgery that would allow Tommy to still have the flexibility of movement. This surgery is only about 7-8 years young. The even bigger catch is that it is a surgery for young spines that are still growing. Only two practices in the world have worked with this surgery and tried it with mature spines. Of all places, they happen to be in New Jersey! Only in the past 3 years have they begun experimenting on mature spines (the oldest to-date being a successful 53 years old.) All 300 cases (mix of mature and juvenile) have been successful. It's called ASC (Anterior Scoliosis Correction.) For those that understand the medical jargon... Surgery will include an anterior muscle-sparing right thoracic fusion approach T6-L2, with anterior annular ligament and apical disc releases, possible thoracoplasty, and anterior instrumentation. In layman's terms... They will go in and thread a flexible cord to his spine that will allow the straightening of his spine while still maintaining his flexibility and rotation. Similar to the way braces straighten teeth... The aftermath...
Tommy's surgery will only take about 4 hours, and within 5 days he will be released from the hospital. Within 4 weeks he can begin regular activity, and within 6 weeks can get back to normal life. (Good news to Tommy's ears as he kept asking "But when can I go back to teaching..."). And for all his students out there reading this, The surgeons agreed he can go back to "instruction" (verbal instruction that is) almost immediately. The bottom dollar:
We are not ones to ask for help, easily. It took a lot of coaxing to even get Tommy to agree to a GoFundMe page. But the reality is this is an out-of-network surgery not covered under our insurance and an expensive one at that. But we agreed that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not only could but WILL change the quality and length of the rest of his life. It will cost $30,000 alone for the deposit to get his name on the schedule (of which we are aiming for December). This does not include the promissory note that we must sign for the other half of the surgery, other hospital/medical expenses, medicines, therapy and the cost of Tommy being out of work. Any help you can provide will help us get closer to making Tommy's dream come true. He works day in and day out making other's happy, now it's time to flip the tables. All prayers are welcome as Tommy begins this scary, yet, exciting time of his life.
We Love you All.