Blaire fell down a flight of stairs and was in excruciating pain. It got so bad that she couldn’t walk. Imaging revealed a large tumor in her spine. She had surgery during her senior year of high school to remove it, but it didn’t go well. Her pain got worse.
Her family consulted with Children's National Hospital’s neurology and orthopaedics teams for a second opinion. Surgeons Robert Keating and Matthew Oetgen recommended a second surgery. They discovered that a severe upper spinal curvature was causing critical narrowing of Blaire’s spinal cord, which created a serious risk for paralysis. “I woke up from surgery in the pediatric intensive care unit surrounded by people waiting to see what neurological complications I sustained,” she recalls.
Recovery was tough. Blaire lost her motor skills in her right leg and couldn’t walk. Nurses helped her through challenging early rehabilitation. They visited her on their days off. They brought cupcakes and played cards.
Blaire juggled physical therapy, occupational therapy and extensive pain management during her freshman year at college. Family members rotated living with her to help with everyday tasks as her health improved slowly. Doctors expect a full recovery.
Blaire’s connection with her nurses at Children’s National inspired her to study nursing. “I want to provide that same compassionate support to other kids one day at Children’s National,” says Blaire, now in her second year of college.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” she says. “My experience at Children’s National changed my life.”
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