Young Boy Regains Ability to Walk

Published on: 03/04/2015

Gerard Collie is a young boy with a love for the outdoors. A native of the Bahamas, Gerard spends most of his afternoons riding his bicycle around the island or swimming at the beach. But those activities were no longer possible when he began losing the sensation in his legs at only 11 years-old.

By the time he was 13, Gerard was unable to walk. He was also experiencing seizures which prevented him from attending school. His mother, Leventhsma Smith, says they saw doctors and specialists for two years but Gerard’s condition continued to worsen.

“It was so difficult seeing him like this, we knew we had to do something quickly.”

Gerard’s family made an appointment at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, to meet with the team from the Spine Disorders Center. An MRI revealed that Gerard had contracted an infection that caused the bones in his spine to collapse. 

“The bone collapse had put so much pressure on his spinal cord that it was shrinking down the cord,” said Dr. Asghar, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Gerard required surgery in order to decompress his spinal cord and repair the bone. Doctors were hopeful that the surgery would be successful because Gerard still had some sensation in his legs. “We monitored the nerve before, during and after surgery to ensure that with every shift and repair of the bone he would regain nerve function. This gave us a clear picture of what we were working with,” said. Dr. Asghar.

The day following his surgery, Gerard was able to move his lower extremities for the first time in two years. Three short months after the procedure, Gerard was not only walking again, he was able to swim, ride his bicycle and kick a soccer ball. He was also able to go back to school.

“To see him walking and doing the things he loves again is indescribable. We are so grateful to Dr. Asghar and Nicklaus Children's,” said Smith.

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