Daniel was born with Prader-Wili Syndrome, a genetic condition resulting in scoliosis among many other challenges. He was referred to orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Fabio Ferri-de-Barros at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Daniel was diagnosed with an 18-degree curve in his spine, which is considered too mild for any aggressive treatment, so Dr. Fabio wanted to monitor it over the next year. However, when Daniel’s sister Kayla broke her arm 7 months later, the family was back in the orthopedics clinic and Brooke mentioned she thought Daniel’s spine had worsened. She asked if Dr. Fabio might be able to see them in the coming days, but he got Daniel in that day and, through an X-ray, found the curve was 25 degrees. Daniel began wearing a brace to stop it from worsening, but after 1.5 years of wearing it 23 hours a day, he stopped tolerating it as a treatment.
Over the next several months, the curve worsened to 50 degrees and there was really no choice but to operate. The standard procedure was to insert rods known as Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) to stabilize Daniel’s spine. However, as he grew, the rods would have to be lengthened, meaning he could require up to three surgeries a year. Each operation would come with risks, but Daniel’s risks were even higher due to his genetic condition. Brooke thought there had to be a better way to help her son. Her research led her to MAGEC rods, which could be lengthened quickly, painlessly and non-invasively using a magnet outside the body.
Dr. Fabio had previously applied for approval to begin performing MAGEC rod surgeries, but had been stalled due to the high cost. Brooke was so adamant that Daniel have this surgery, she was willing to take him to the U.S. Dr. Fabio said he would help make that happen if necessary, but Brooke could tell he would be heartbroken if it did, as he personally wanted help Daniel, here at home. It was no small feat, but with Brooke’s determination and Dr. Fabio’s support, the procedure is now approved for eligible kids here at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Daniel was the first child in Alberta to receive MAGEC rods. He has required no follow-up surgeries. He comes to the hospital to have his rods lengthened every three months and the entire process – including an X-ray – lasts 30-45 minutes, plus, there is zero recovery time. The Gibsons are very grateful to Dr. Fabio for his encouragement and persistence in fighting for the best treatment so eligible kids, like Daniel, can have a less-invasive path.