Kate rides horses competitively; sky dives and has future plans to go bungee jumping. "I want to do it all," stated Kate, a 19-year-old scoliosis patient. "I feel like I was given a stronger, happier future and I want to make the most out of it."
There was a time Kate was afraid she wouldn’t have that opportunity. Diagnosed with scoliosis at 11 years old, Kate’s curvature quickly doubled by the time she was 12, from 7 to 14 degrees. Her original doctor recommended a nighttime bending brace, however despite wearing it, her curve progressed to 23 degrees. Kate was then put in a 23-hour brace, which caused horrific pain.
When it was clear that the brace was doing more harm than good, Kate’s mother found Dr. Roye through a recommendation from a friend and quickly made an appointment. "When I told Dr. Roye that the 23-hour brace put me in unbearable pain, he simply told me to stop wearing it. That was the moment I knew he had my best interests at heart," explained Kate.
Dr. Roye suggested that Kate try physical therapy with the hope that by using her own body, she would be able to stop the curve in her spine from increasing. Kate embraced physical therapy and the importance of exercise. As a result, she was much happier — living life as a kid and sleeping soundly at night — with a newfound love of working out.
In December 2005, it was discovered that the physical therapy was not controlling the curve as hoped and that it had reached 55 degrees. Dr. Roye recommended surgery. "I probably should have been scared. Although I do remember crying, I certainly don’t remember any feelings of doubt. I knew that if anyone was going to give me such major surgery, it absolutely had to be Dr. Roye," recalled Kate.
At the time of Kate’s surgery, another x-ray showed that the curvature had progressed to 65 degrees. Her six and a half hour surgery, in which 14-inch rods were inserted into her back, went smoothly.
After being released from the hospital, Kate recuperated at home where she built up her stamina and slowly found herself getting back into a regular routine. At her two-month check up, Kate, an avid horse rider, heard the words that she was hoping to hear. "Dr. Roye told me that I could get back on a horse. I was so jazzed!" said Kate.
Soon she was riding again. Since her surgery, Kate has fallen off numerous times while jumping horses over four-foot fences. Each time, she has been able to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back on.
Today, Kate hardly ever thinks about the rods in her back, but she does often think of the doctor that performed her life-changing surgery. "It’s hard for me to explain just how grateful I am that Dr. Roye came into my life. I always say that I wish there were hundreds of Dr. Royes to help more and more children the way he has helped me."
Her message to a child going through a similar situation is simple, "Be confident that the doctors in the Pediatric Orthopaedic Division of New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital willget you on the fast track to a normal life. Even in your darkest moments when you can't even begin to imagine normalcy, it will come and find you, and you will be able to enjoy life again." Kate, with her healthy outlook and exuberance for everything life has to offer, knows this firsthand.