Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Scoliosis surgery recipients thank ScotiaFoundation for transforming lives

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sophia Johnson, parent of Shantika Genas, shows how well the spinal surgery transformed her daughter’s spine after suffering from Scoliosis.
Beneficiaries of scoliosis surgery, and their parents, celebrate their recovery at a luncheon hosted at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston recently.

It was an emotional experience when persons who were successful with scoliosis surgery gathered to say 'thank you' to the ScotiaFoundation and the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) team for giving them renewed lives.

Ten former patients, all teens and young adults, came to the Jamaica Conference Centre to a recent luncheon that closed the programme to share their experiences.

Sophia Johnson described the physical and emotional pain her daughter Shantika Genas experienced with the debilitating spine disease. Genas, she said, was a broken child who was mocked and jeered at school.

In a bid to change her circumstance, Johnson took the child to the spine clinic at KPH for analysis and left in even more distress when she was informed of the costs. Realising there was no way to afford the surgery, she told the doctor her daughter "would have to stay like this."


Beneficiary of special facility


Some months later, she received a call from the doctor telling her to take the child to the hospital the following Tuesday for surgery. Not long after, Scotiabank called to advise that Genas was one of the beneficiaries of a special facility that would pay for the surgery. Johnson said she was overjoyed, and has been thanking God ever since.

Scoliosis is a c- or an s-shaped curvature of the spine, often seen in adolescents, which causes them to be bent over, or for one shoulder to appear much higher and more pronounced that the other. Adolescent scoliosis is most common in Jamaica, affecting teenagers between the ages of 10 to 16 years.

These patients experience severe pain and respiratory complications, and are unable to participate in normal activities, including attending school.

Genas is one of more than 90 teenagers to have received spinal surgery, at no cost, through an initiative by the ScotiaFoundation in partnership with the Kingston Public Hospital and Medical Technologies Limited.

The recently concluded programme benefited children between the ages of 12 and 18 years, from families unable to fund the cost of the surgery, and were patients of the Scoliosis Clinic at the KPH. Their selection was done through the hospital, based on the severity of the child's condition, by a medical team.

Since the start of the initiative in 2008, the ScotiaFoundation has contributed over $31 million to the Scoliosis and Spine Care programme. The focus of the Foundation is now on the Nutrition for Learning programme.