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Aboudi is only nine, but so far he has had 26 surgeries on his spine. At age 1 1/2, he developed scoliosis – he had a 17 degree curve in his spine that if ignored would cause heart problems. He tried wearing chest braces, then Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib rods to hold the spine in a straight position, but they couldn’t keep up with the aggressive curve and came with complications. This past summer, in June 2015, his scoliosis measured 86 degrees, but Dr. Fabio and Dr. Parsons had a new plan to control the curve. They would perform a surgery to prepare him for halo traction. Halo traction involves drilling a device that looks like an angel’s halo directly into his skull and attaching it to a bar above his hospital bed or walker to gradually straighten him, making room for his lungs and stomach tract to expand.
For two months and a week, Aboudi lived in the hospital with his halo. But it did not dampen his spirits. He made friends with his nurses and his favourite porter—who just so happened to be Calgary Stampeder Jabari Arthur. (The two even developed a secret handshake!) Thanks to the halo decreasing the curve, to half of what it was, he was able to have it removed and finally go home in August. He will be back in four months to insert growing rods to hold his spine that will be adjusted every six months. He will have another surgery when he is 13 years old that will infuse permanent rods with his spine.
Zubaidah is so grateful for the support of the doctors and nurses who made her son feel at home during his lengthy stay, with popcorn for his movies and even visits from the tooth fairy.
Aboudi’s family are so thankful to live so close to such a state-of-the-art hospital with compassionate people who didn’t give up on correcting his aggressive scoliosis. Their experience has encouraged them to give back by donating toys to the units and care packages for other halo kids.