Emerging from the procedure with eight pins affixed to her skull, Lauren Gumtow awoke beside her new walker, which was attached to the metal halo around her forehead.
But as the anesthesia wore off, the 6-year-old took note of her newfound equipment and realized it might give her an unanticipated edge in combat. She smiled at her mother.
“Want to fight?”
The January 2014 procedure was just another step for Lauren, who had been diagnosed with severe scoliosis three years earlier. But her bright attitude helped her family get through the toughest times, and just three months after the halo was put into place, Lauren would become one of the first scoliosis patients in the United States to be outfitted with a special new growing rod.
Born in 2007, Lauren was just 2 days old when she was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect which results in low oxygenation of the blood. George Alfieris, M.D., director of pediatric cardiac surgery at Golisano Children’s Hospital, performed her open heart surgery in October 2007.
“So she’s really had the journey,” said Kelly Gumtow, Lauren’s mother.
At age 3, Lauren began to show signs of scoliosis, and she returned to Golisano Children’s Hospital where she began meeting with James Sanders, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics. Though Lauren was only 3 years old at the time, Sanders knew that her scoliosis was acute enough that treatment needed to progress quickly.