A 12-year-old Sunningdale girl needs spinal-fusion surgery after she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis earlier this year Alexandra Oeschger’s scoliosis has resulted in a 50-degree curve in her spine.
The surgery includes straightening the bones through a back incision and mending them together with a bone graft and metal screws.
If left untreated, the curve will worsen, put strain on Alexandra’s vital organs and affect her overall quality of life, says her mother, Nancy Oeschger.
She and Alexandra’s father, Devon Oeschger, noticed a hump on Alexandra’s back while she was washing up in the kitchen one evening around June.
The following day, they took Alexandra to a chiropractor who recommended a spinal scan. The scan revealed she had severe scoliosis.
“The hump on her back is due to the rotation of the spine causing massive shifts to her ribs,” says Ms Oeschger.
Time is of the essence, she says, explaining that Alexandra’s growth spurt is only adding fuel to the fire.
“If we wait too long to do the surgery, it means the curve would have progressed even further and more screws would be needed, which would then affect her healing time as well.”
Alexandra’s parents are battling to cover the costs of the operation.
Their medical insurance is paying R83 000, but it’s a “drop in the ocean”, according to Ms Oeschger, who says there’s a shortfall of more than R250 000.
They started a crowdfunding campaign and have an operation date at Mediclinic Stellenbosch for Monday November 16. But with only R36 000 raised on the crowdfunding page so far, Ms Oeschger says the surgery may have to be postponed.
Alexandra, or Ally as she’s called by her loved ones, is in Grade 6 at Sunningdale Primary School.
Ms Oeschger says the school has supported the family with a “crazy hat and hair day” fund-raiser.
Alexandra suffers with pain in her back due to the pressure the curve puts on her nerves. Her mother has had to pick her up early from school a few times when the pain becomes too much for her.
Alexandra has also become self-conscious and won’t wear certain clothes that reveal her back.
“We went to the beach once so far in the past few months and I wore a dress that covered me up. I didn’t want to take it off,” she says.
Ms Oeschger, who has two younger children, urges parents to “maintain connection with their kids”.
“Parents should not take for granted that kids are okay because they look okay. Inspect them. Take the time to be more one-on-one with them.”
Ms Oeschger has a fitness qualification and has started Fit Mom training classes that she offers online or in person to raise money for the surgery. The training is for women only.
She says she is also up for fitness challenges, such as running or hiking up Table Mountain, to raise money for the surgery. She has designed and ordered T-shirts that can be bought on Ally’s Scoliosis Journey and Emergency Facebook Page.
To donate to Alexandra’s surgery go to https://gogetfunding.com/help-ally-get-her-spinal-fusion-surgery
If you would like to book a training session, email Ms Oeschger at firstname.lastname@example.org