Let's Back Zach!

Let's #BackZach!

Thank you for stopping by to read Zach's story.  We are fundraising to help our 15 year old son who suffers from Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.  

A simple piece of paper would change everything.  

Remembering the scoliosis screening done at school when I was a student, I didn't think anything about it. A few days later, Zachary pulled a letter from his backpack and handed it to me.  He had a positive screen at school.  Since that letter, he's had appointments with multiple physicians, MRIs, X-Rays, laser scans, a brace, an out-of-state evaluation by an expert, and now we hope surgery in New York!

Why not Birmingham?

Zach has double curve or "S" curve scoliosis.  His upper spine curve is at 51 degrees and his lower spine curve is at 50 degrees in the opposite direction.  This means that surgical intervention is needed to stabilize the spine and reduce the curve as much as possible.  There are three main surgical options and/or combinations of those three for scoliosis that are currently being performed.  VBT (vertebral body tethering), ASC (anterior scoliosis correction), and spinal fusion.

- VBT is performed on flexible, immature spines normally around 10-14 years of age.  A flexible cord or tether is used with screws to help straighten and hold a growing spine. The incision is made on the patient's side and is usually fairly small.  There are now around 32 surgeons who do this procedure in the USA, and an additional 27 outside the US.   

-ASC (our hope for Zach) is performed on adolescent and mature spines.  It is also back muscle sparing as the incisions are also on the patient's side but larger than VBT.  The same cord and screws are used but tightened since there is little or no growth left in the spine.  There are only 7 physicians worldwide doing this procedure, only 2 locations in the US-New York and New Jersey. 

Both VBT and ASC maintain the flexibility and movement of each vertebra in the spine.  

-Spinal fusion is the use of long rods down the spinal column, either in sections with single curves or as a whole with kids like Zach.  The movement of the spine is then greatly reduced because each vertebra no longer has individual movement.  Patients like Zach need rods down the length of their spine with screws at nearly every vertebra.  Zach would be fused from T3-L4, his upper chest down to his lower back.  As his parents, we refuse to tell Zach this is the only option.  He has so many plans and dreams for his life, and wants to maintain his flexibility as long as possible.

Here's where we need a little help from our friends

Through research and help with other parents who have faced traveling to New York for their kiddos, (thanks to an amazing Facebook group!), we have been able to put together an "educated guess" list of our expected expenses.  

-Flights to New York and home for Michael, Zach and me ~ $2200

-Thoracic surgeon's fee (not covered by our insurance) ~ $8,000 

-Place to stay ~ $4,000  

-Meals ???  We don't know exactly what to expect for this, but are guesstimating $20/day per adult x 2 weeks, and $20/day for Zach for 10 days (after he is out of the hospital).  $760

-Copays/deductibles for our insurance ~ we will owe $1350 

Future's so bright...

Zach is an easy-going, music and band-loving, tech savvy guy who has said that he is not afraid of the surgery and can hardly wait until he has less pain and can hopefully stop wearing his brace.  As his parents, it has been difficult to watch him go through this but we are confident that this route is the best one for us to take.  We have spoken to him often about his options and he is the driving force behind the decisions we have made.  He has also given us the okay to share his story in the hope that if we can help just one other parent or child out there, it would be worth it.  If we had known the about the urgency with VBT/ASC in the beginning, we may not have missed the window for VBT.  If you or a family member is diagnosed with scoliosis, please reach out! 

Thank you again for reading our story and if you are not able to assist financially, please pray with us and for us especially for Zach's surgeon and his team.  We also ask that you consider sharing our story on social media.  Thank you and remember that June is Scoliosis Awareness Month.  #BackZach


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Amy Atchison 
Calera, AL
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