Cares For Kids: Miracle Kid Lauren Gumtow
Rochester/Olean, N.Y. (WHAM) - Ten year old Olean Middle School student Lauren Gumtow can say magic is making her bigger and stronger.
She sported a shiny hair bow the day we met. It matched the shiny rods on either side of her spine. The rods look pretty basic, but this MAGEC System is new technology in the U.S. MAGEC stands for magnetic expansion control and Lauren is the second person in the country to be using the system.
"She was the right patient at the right time and it's worked really well for her," said her surgeon Dr. James Sanders, chief of the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics at Golisano Children's Hospital. He did the surgery in 2014.
Lauren had a very large curve in her spine. They tried using casts and a brace, but it wasn't enough. The curve would soon be impacting her lungs. So they moved ahead with the MAGEC System just after the FDA approved it.
The benefit of this system? Fewer surgeries.
Instead of having to operate every three months to lengthen the rods, which lengthens and straightens Lauren’s spine, Dr. Sanders uses a controller to activate the magnetic motor on the rods which lengthens them. It is all done in an office visit.
"She goes to clinic and she gets lengthened every three months and sometimes we are in and out in 20 minutes," said Kelly Gumtow, Lauren's mom. "It's unbelievable."
Her big sister Rylie thinks it's cool.
"She just sits there, it's so easy and every time we go she grows every little bit more," Rylie said.
Lauren would love to be as tall as Rylie. Dr. Sanders says she'll get there.
The start of the process was tough. Lauren was in halo traction for three months before getting the rods - a necessary step to allow her to breathe more easily. They noticed a change right away.
"You could just see so much changing within Lauren," Kelly said. "Not only just her spine coming over but her eating habits, her sleeping habits were better. When she got halo traction on a Monday, that same week I had to go buy her new shoes because her feet even grew. It was just amazing to watch this journey."
Lauren has grown so much since getting the rods, she had bigger ones put in over the summer. That's two surgeries for the rods instead of what would have been six surgeries so far the old way.
That's better for Lauren, better for the Gumtow family and better for Dr. Sanders.
"It's great. The kids hate me far less if I operate on them less," Dr. Sanders said with a laugh.
13WHAM News focused this story on Lauren's treatment on her spine. She also had open heart surgery when she was just five months old. That also happened at Golisano Children's Hospital.
To support patients like Lauren and the new improvements at the hospital, you can donate online here.
Be sure to watch Thursday as we join our radio partners Mix 100.5 and WHAM1180 for the Cares for Kids Radiothon.