My name is Michelle Banaszak and I am Claire's mother. This is a photo of Claire 10 weeks post-op double surgery.
On February 20th, at Claire’s 14 year checkup, I mentioned to her doctor that I wanted her walk evaluated. Claire has always been super flexible and spends much of her time bending and stretching into uncomfortable looking positions. I assumed that she had an uneven muscle distribution on the left side, brought on by throwing her right leg over her head all of the time. I was horribly wrong! Within three days she was x-rayed, diagnosed with severe adolescent ideopathic scoliosis, which is likely genetic, and scheduled to see a local highly respected orthopedic surgeon.
Four nerve wracking weeks later we sat in his office, overwhelmed with images of our "baby’s” crooked “S” curved spine. Claire has a 38 degree curve in her Thoracic spine and a 53 degree curve in her Lumbar.
Once a child reaches 40 degrees, most Orthopedic doctors start throwing around the terms surgery and spinal fusion. Roughly 3% of the population has scoliosis and of that group, only 1% requires surgery. We were told 60-70% of Clair's spine needed to be fused (Thoracic 3 or 4 all the way down to her Sacrum) or her curves would continue to slowly progress at a rate of 1 degree each year! Fusion, would leave Claire without the ability to bend forward and back, side to side or twist... all unacceptable outcomes to us and Claire.
Fortunately and miraculously, God lead us to a website detailing a type of surgery called VBT (Vertebral Body Tethering) or ASC (Anterior Scoliosis Correction) which are alternatives to fusion surgery. Fusion surgery uses metal rods and bone grafts to permanently create one solid massive vertebrae whereas VBT/ASC uses flexible cords to pull each vertebrae back into the proper postion using surgical techniques and the child's future growth.
￼With VBT/ASC, children maintain their flexibility, there is less scarring and recuperation time (4-6 weeks instead of 6-8 months), less pain and complications. Although her surgery will last all day and she will remain in the Children's ICU for 7-9 days, once home, she should be back to playing sports and other normal activities within 6-8 weeks!
The doctors we are working with helped pioneer the VBT procedure 10 years ago. They've had incredible success treating scoliosis and we were overwhelmed with gratitude when they said Claire was an ideal candidate for ASC!
Although we have insurance which pays for most hospital care and testing, our provider does not work with the select group of specialized surgeons who have advanced these techniques.
As you can see, Claire is a very active teen. She enjoys musical theater, plays competative volleyball, lacross and recently earned her 1st degree black belt in karate. She blesses others weekly by assisting as an alter server at church, helping younger students in her school choir, and knitting with the elderly at a local care facility.
￼By getting the surgery as soon as possible, Claire's remaining growth will help reform her muscles and "remodel" her vertebrae. Other VBT surgeons, with less experience, will not work with Claire because she is reaching the end of her growth.
We are asking for your blessings and prayers to help Claire live a healthy, full and flexible life! 100% of all donations will be used for doctor's fees and travel to and from appointments out of state. Although the monetary costs are extrememly high, with the success of this surgery, Claire's quality of life, for the rest of her life, will be high as well!
Please consider sharing Claire's struggle and needs on your social media pages. Claire is very committed to sharing her experience and educating people about the hope and possibilites that are out there. We kindly encourage you to share our link on your facebook timeline. Sharing our link is key in making a difference for Claire, our family and the other scoliosis families who have not yet heard of VBT and ASC! Claire’s personal Go Fund Me link can be simply copied and pasted with a simple introduction from you:
For the families out there facing scoliosis and possible spinal fusion, please "google" VBT and ASC. Facebook also has a enlightening and supportive group called: Scoliosis Tethering (VBT & ASC) Support. Consider joining and reaching out to others who share our struggles!
Thanks for blessing us with your prayers and support.
- Richard Barnett
- Martin Harar
- Nicolette Moucha
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