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Burdens Lifted for Scoliosis patients

Published:Friday | July 24, 2015 | 3:29 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin

When Jonathan Johnson saw the cost to undertake surgery for his scoliosis, he nearly fainted.

That burden will be lifted, however, as he was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the Scotia Foundation Scoliosis and Spine Care programme, which will cover the full cost of his surgery.

Speaking with The Glea-ner following a handover ceremony that was held at the Kingston Public Hospital yesterday, Johnson, who is among eight teenagers to receive this kind of treatment, said that his has been an uncomfortable journey.

"I was at the hospital when they told me the cost, and when I looked at the bill it was $605,015," he recalled.

"I knew I couldn't afford to pay for it. I was also on the waiting list for two years, so it has not been easy, especially, during high school years. I am really thankful to Scotiabank, and I am looking forward to doing the surgery and recuperating," said the 20-year-old, who is a past student of Anchovy High School in St James.

Judith Coleman, grandmother of Deborah Coleman, another beneficiary of the programme, indicated that it was a struggle to watch her granddaughter endure pain.

"Sometimes I feel so down knowing that I can't afford to pay for the treatment. She encountered a lot of pain. Sometimes she look at me and say, 'Grandma, mi can't manage'. But praise be to God for this assistance," she declared.

"They wouldn't understand the burden that has been lifted. It was a struggle, but I am looking forward to her being able to enjoy the rest of her teenage years pain free, and also, I am hoping to be in a position where I can help another child," she told The Gleaner.

bullied in schools

Executive director of the Scotia Foundation Joylene Griffiths Irving said Scotiabank was always looking for ways

to help and move the nation


"It's a lot that these students go through. They are bullied in schools, called names, and they sometimes miss out on pursuing their passion as a result of the pain. So in spite of the challenges, we are committed to the task," she said.

"We are hoping that other organisations will be able to do their part because we can only do eight. The need is great, and one of the objectives of this programme is to see if other persons will follow and reach out to other recipients," Irving said.

Dr Natalie Whiley, senior medical officer for the Kingston Public Hospital, told The Gleaner that this was a well-needed initiative.

"There's a long waiting list for scoliosis. It affects children from an early age, but when they go through that adolescent growth spurt and they begin to grow, then the curvature of their spine becomes even more pronounced, and if you talk to these children, their stories are horrendous," she said.

"We are extremely grateful to the Scotia Foundation, which has rallied to the cause in providing implants in addition to medical technology. When you speak to the students, they no longer have pain, their self-esteem has significantly improved, and for some of them, they get taller when the bones are straightened, so they are literally standing tall," she said with a chuckle.