Three years ago, life changed dramatically for Abenet. She was born in Ethiopia with congenital scoliosis and without treatment; the curve in her spine would have progressively increased. After 7 ½ years of searching for appropriate medical care for Abenet’s extreme scoliosis, her birth family relinquished rights in hopes for proper medical attention. Abenet moved to the United States to be adopted by the McIntyre Family in Wausau and began medical treatment immediately.
Although Abenet was terrified of doctors when she first arrived in the United States and screamed through her first appointment she began to feel safe and comfortable the more time she spent at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Abenet’s congenital scoliosis was severe as she has several fused vertebra in her cervical and thoracic spine with two curves – one more than 100 degrees and the other more than 90 degrees.
It was recommended that Abenet undergo halo traction and spinal release surgery. Those surgeries were followed by a Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) rod implantation. All in August 2014. As Abenet grows, the rods are lengthened through a small incision in her back. This permits her spine to elongate and stretch a little bit at a time. This curved metal rod also helps separate her ribs so that there is enough space for her lungs to grow and stretch with each breath.
Abenet has come a long way the past three years. She has become comfortable in the Hospital and turns into a “remote control hog” during her hospitalizations! She asks for her friend and Child Life Specialist, Heather, during each stay. Although she will require continuous medical attention, she is living life like any other fourth-grader and keeps her family busy with art, swimming, soccer and bike riding. Her parents stress that “children are resilient and stronger than we give them credit for!”
Parents: Hilary & Jim McIntyre
Siblings: Sean, Brittany, Maggie, Claire, Conor, James