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news News Thursday, June 18, 2020 Thursday, June 18, 2020 4:41 PM - Thursday, June 18, 2020 4:41 PM

Eloise beats scoliosis

Eloise beats scoliosis

Eloise is a girl with a special spine. It had a curve that her pediatrician found during a routine school physical for sixth grade. Her spine curve measured 37 degrees. Eloise and her parents visited specialists at two hospitals in the Chicago area. They decided not to have her wear a brace because at least one physician said she was mostly done with growing. That meant the curve should not get much worse. Eloise studied in middle school and made the volleyball team as she hoped. She also started modeling.

But eventually the family realized Eloise was not finished growing. She grew eight more inches by the eighth grade. By the time she was a freshman, her back was a serious issue. “I started to have pain. I couldn’t stand up for long periods of time. When I’d get home from school I’d lay down for a nap,” Eloise said. A specialist said she needed surgery immediately to correct a spinal curve of more than 55 degrees. The shoulder height difference was also noticeable on the runway, and her modeling agency told her they couldn’t use her because she had a funny walk.

Her family searched and prayed for the right place to treat her serious spine curve. Her mother’s boss asked if they had talked to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Her mom, Kim, had never heard of us. Soon after this conversation with her boss, Kim had to go pick up her daughter’s X-rays from another hospital in the Chicagoland area. Due to heavy traffic on the expressway and local roads, her car’s GPS put her on a new route. “GPS is God’s Pointing System,” said Kim.  She drove up Oak Park Avenue and passed by the Chicago Shriners Hospital. “Oh my gosh, that’s the Shriners she was just telling me about. I knew that was God telling me we needed to go.”

At Shriners Hospitals, our world-class care is not limited to insurance networks. Care and services are provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The family saw Michal Szczodry, M.D., a pediatric spine surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago. Within a few months, Dr. Szczodry performed a T2-L1 spinal fusion. “Even though it was a long 12-hour day, we knew she was in good hands,” Kim said. 

The family said that their prayers were answered. A year and a half later, Eloise is back in the game and has returned to volleyball and other sports. The summer included a trip to Colorado with plenty of mountain hikes. “Without the surgery, she would never have been able to hike due to the incline,” said Kim.

“And I couldn’t be on my feet more than 20 minutes. Now we’re out for hour-long hikes,” Eloise said. She is also walking the runway again as a model.

The family joined a scoliosis support group on Facebook. Eloise and her mom encourage other families to visit Shriners Hospitals and ask for Dr. Szczodry. “I would say if anybody needs to make a choice, choose him. That’s one of the best choices I’ve made.”

Eloise with brotherEloise on hike