Family Advocacy Day Hero -- Robert L.

Robert L., Age 18  Robert L
Hometown: East Greenwich, RI
Hospital: Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

You can’t tell by looking at Robert — a healthy, happy 17-year-old — that he has endured 16 surgeries in his life. 

At 4 years old he became just the fourth patient at Boston Children’s Hospital to receive the innovative vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) device, also known as a titanium rib. His fused ribs and multiple vertebral anomalies were causing congenital scoliosis, but the VEPTR would allow his spine to grow while also allowing his chest wall to support his lung and heart functions.

Between the ages of 4 and 13, he underwent 13 surgeries to lengthen or exchange the device. At 13, doctors performed a thoracic spinal fusion, fusing 12 of his vertebrae and placing rods on either side of his spine. At 16, Robert required a lumbar spinal fusion to fully correct a stubborn lower curve. This straightening of his spine caused him to gain 2.5 inches in height.

Today, Robert is a high school senior and honor student, a peer mentor, editor of his school newspaper, mock trial expert, artist and piano player. He and his family will always be grateful for the care he has received at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Fact: The one percent of hospitals that receive CHGME funding trains approximately 50 percent of all pediatricians and pediatric specialists. 

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