Zachary, better known by his nickname, Lucky, was born five weeks early. He spent five weeks in the ICU and faced some developmental delays early on. He began physical therapy sessions when he was 2 years old, and after some time, his therapist noticed a knot on his back that didn’t appear to be muscular in nature.
Lucky’s pediatrician recommended he see the spine specialists at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Lucky and his family met with the Division of Spinal Surgery. The team found that Lucky had a severe deformity of the thoracic spine, known as congenital kyphoscoliosis.
From the time he was two-year-old until now at age 10, Lucky has had four surgeries to help straighten his spine. One year ago, he spent eight weeks in halo traction, followed by an 11-hour surgery.
Throughout the entire process, Lucky has never complained and remained positive. Today he is a happy, charismatic and curious child who loves riding his bike, kayaking, playing tennis and hiking with his parents.
Read below for Lucky’s story, written in his own, unedited words.
May 16, 2007, that is the day that I was born.
October 2009 is when I had my first surgery for my spine. I don’t really remember this at all because I was only 2 ½ years old.
I grew so much and I was so strong that my spine turned into the shape of a 7! It was painful at times so the doctors knew that I needed surgery again when I got older.
Life became difficult because my head was tilted to the left and it made it hard to focus, breathe, turn and do school work.
My head muscles hurt because I couldn’t turn my head, I had to turn my whole body.
In April 2017, I went into the hospital to straighten my spine. I was 9 years old.
I got to celebrate my 10th birthday in the hospital.
My nurses gave me a fish (named Minion) and decorated my room really cool.
I spent 9 weeks in the hospital. All of my old rods were taken out so I could get new rods.
I had to wear a halo for 8 weeks so I could straighten up.
At one point my doctor said that the x-rays showed that I needed more time in traction.
Staying in the hospital was like being at an amusement park because I met nice friends there and I got to run around the hospital and go in secret doors since the security officers were my friends.
There was a man in the Family FUX Center [Michael Fux Family Center] named JC. He ran the Family Center and he was very nice. He helped me open up the doors and let me watch any move I wanted to in the theatre.
I learned to play air hockey in the hospital and now I have a table at home.
During my hospital stays, my friends sent me cards and goodies. That made me feel happy.
After 8 weeks in halo traction, I had another spinal fusion surgery where new rods were put in.
This surgery helped me grow tall, like 6 inches!
Now I am able to play tennis, kayak, paddleboard, swim and ride bikes!
Doctors say that if I keep this up and not have any more crookedness in my head then I won’t have to go in for any more surgeries.
I feel pretty good right now and I hope that my spine will stay straight forever!
I want to thank the entire team and all the special nurses and doctors that helped my spine become straight again!