Chequana Gilkes has corrective surgery  done on curved spine
September 17, 2013

Chequana Gilkes has corrective surgery done on curved spine

Having undergone surgery this past summer to correct her severely curved spine, Chequana Gilkes has returned to St Vincent feeling like a new person.{{more}}

From a very young age, Gilkes has suffered from spinal muscular atrophy, a rare disease that has kept her confined to a wheelchair. In addition to her condition, the young woman found out that she was also suffering from a curved spinal cord.

Since 2010, Gilkes and her mother have been visiting the World Pediatric Clinic in St Vincent with the hope that she would be selected for corrective surgery in Richmond, Virginia, for her severely curved spine, which was squeezing her heart and lungs and made it hard for her to breathe properly.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Gilkes was seen by the pediatric orthopedic surgeon Chester Sharps, who recognized the severity of her condition and noted that if she was not treated, she would die.

Subsequently, Sharps arranged for Gilkes, who is now 18, to be placed on the waiting list of St Mary’s Hospital, which is located in Richmond, Virginia.

The Richmond Times Dispatch stated that Gilkes went through a four-hour surgery on July 30, 2013 at the St Mary’s Hospital, where Sharps and his team put two screws in every vertebrae and two rods and bone grafts to fuse them to keep her spine straight.

While recovering from surgery, Gilkes, who is a singer at heart, spent her time trying to desist from leaning or tilting her head, which usually gave her relief in the past from pain caused by her curved spine.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Gilkes said that she has “never been so oxygenified” and that she felt “so airy”.

In addition, Chequana’s mother, Desrita Gilkes stated that her daughter has said that she feels like a new person.

The newspaper also reported that Trustcare Home Medical Equipment staff interviewed Gilkes and her mother and donated a modified wheelchair with a customized cushion, durable wheels to absorb the shock on the uneven roads and a narrow build to squeeze into tight spaces.

The young lass was extremely grateful for her new wheelchair and stated that she wished she could say “‘Thank you’ in a billion languages. Thanks for straightening me out.”

Gilkes, who is a former student of the Girls’ High School and the SVG Community College, returned to St Vincent yesterday. She is said to be preparing for her first semester of classes at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, where she plans to study Biology.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that the CEO of World Pediatric Project, Susan Rickman, said that the 18-year-old will be the first known physically disabled student from St Vincent and the Grenadines to leave for university.