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news News Wednesday, January 8, 2020 Wednesday, January 8, 2020 1:22 PM - Wednesday, January 8, 2020 1:22 PM

Patient Ambassador gets second wind after scoliosis surgery

Patient Ambassador gets second wind after scoliosis surgery

In February 2018, Philadelphia Shriners Hospital Patient Ambassador, Sydney, had vertebral body tethering (VBT) surgery to correct her scoliosis. Sydney learned first-hand that correcting her spine improved her physically, and also improved her lung function and ability as a musician. After her surgery, Sydney went back to school and started playing her oboe less than four weeks after her surgery. Not only was she able to breathe better and deeper, but she also gained more confidence in her ability to play since she did not become winded as easily.

When most adolescents have spine surgery, they are usually concerned about how the surgery might affect their flexibility and physical ability to play sports. Their parents might also be concerned about the time spent in the hospital and how long it will take to recover once they return home.

“I know people talk a lot about kids being able to play sports after spinal surgery, but they don’t think about how lung function affects kids who play a double-reed instrument like the oboe," said Sydney’s mother, Melissa. “I hope this story will give kids who play instruments some hope.”

Sydney credits her success as a musician to the care she received at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia. Her improved ability to play the oboe and saxophone, along with the stamina to march for several hours, recently earned her the opportunity to represent her high school while marching in the London New Year’s Day parade.

“I was so happy to be able to experience London with my dad and my friends in the band,” said Sydney. “It was an awesome experience to be able to represent my school, my community and Shriners [Hospitals for Children]. Before my surgery, I thought about scoliosis every day. Because of Shriners and my life-changing VBT surgery, I don’t think about scoliosis every day, and I am able to do things like this and live a healthy and active life.”

Sydney’s scoliosis journey has also led her to start a scoliosis support group in her hometown of Oklahoma City, which has grown to 20 members in the last couple of years. Several members of the group have also become Shriners Hospitals for Children patients. She has raised over $1,500 for the hospital and their local Shriners (members of Shriners International).

Sydney has become very passionate about sharing her experience at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia, which ultimately led her to become a Patient Ambassador. She hopes that she can help other kids who might be facing VBT surgery or any other scoliosis-related procedure.

Sydney in front of Windsor CastleSydney in front of ferris wheel in London