Cathoosemie was born with severe convex curvature of her spine which, if left untreated, would be highly likely to cause neurologic deficits or paralysis in her nearing future. Residing on the small Haitian island of La Gonâve with little access to basic healthcare, finding treatment seemed impossible. Childspring quickly learned just how complex Cathoosemie’s case was when no clear consensus was reached by US physicians on whether surgery was a possibility. It seemed the only option would be to bring Cathoosemie to the US for an evaluation. Miraculously, during this period Childspring came upon an impressive US orthopedic surgeon who was already making multiple trips to a Haitian hospital each year to perform complex surgeries. Collaboration with this surgeon would provide Cathoosemie the opportunity to be evaluated in her own community rather than fly to the US alone.
Upon initial evaluation however, it was determined surgery would be extremely high risk and the decision from the doctor at that time was nothing could be done for this sweet girl. Despite this devastating news, Cathoosemie remained positive and strong, continuing to touch those around her with her glowing smile. She happily focused on her schoolwork and love for singing while periodically returning to the mainland for monitoring at the clinic. Years later, Cathoosemie was at an appointment when she received news she never thought she would hear: surgery could be scheduled…in Haiti!
The US surgeon spent months planning to ensure each logistical piece was in place and the surgery could proceed safely. He secured $15,000 worth of donated specialized spine hardware and arranged for a neuromonitoring technician to fly to Haiti specifically for Cathoosemie’s case. He was also able to collaborate with a US anesthesiologist to ensure everything ran smoothly during surgery. Cathoosemie was placed in a surgically installed halo traction device for six weeks to elongate her spine and stretch the surrounding tissue in preparation for surgery. She remained in the hospital during this period of time and loved visiting the other Childspring children as they arrived, providing them a comforting smile as they prepared for their own surgeries and treatments.
In early May, Cathoosemie successfully underwent her long awaited spinal correction surgery. She spent the days after surgery in minimal pain, cheerful and smiling as always. She will remain in the halo traction brace over the next three months to stabilize her spine, but due to her incredible progress she has been cleared to heal at home rather than stay at the hospital.
Through all the ups and downs experienced, Cathoosemie remained strong with her resilient spirit and happy outlook. Her story is truly inspiring and Childspring cannot wait to watch as she continues to spread joy and hope in this next chapter of her life.