ScotiaFoundation, KPH, Medical Technology

Kingston, July 19, 2013 - The waiting list for children in need of surgery to correct scoliosis at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) is between 50 - 70. This is a large number which grows every year because of the cost to get the surgeries done.

The Scotiabank Foundation, concerned about the impact of scoliosis on the lives of young people, will assist eight children between the ages of 14 and 16 years old to receive corrective surgery this summer. They will return to school in September, walking upright, and with a brighter outlook on life. "Young people affected by scoliosis experience severe pain, disruption in their education, and a range of social challenges. Since 2006, we have assisted some 40 persons by funding the corrective surgery at the Kingston Public Hospital. Medical Technologies Ltd is also an important partner and has provided the screws at a discount and this year will donate sets of screw to cover two of the surgeries," explained Joylene Griffiths-Irving, Executive Director of the ScotiaFoundation.

The recipients this year are Shanice Guthrie – 17yrs; Roshay Graham – 14yrs; Andre Campbell – 17yrs; Yanique Holness – 16yrs; Rose-Marie Shearer 17 yrs; Tajera Silvera – 16yrs; Linton Blake – 16yrs and Chennel Smikle – 15yrs.

They were selected by the KPH based on the severity of the condition, length of time on the waiting list, age and financial need. Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves either extremely to the right or left as people age. The condition is hereditary and it is estimated that some 90,000 Jamaicans, including Olympian Usain Bolt, are affected by the condition at varying degrees of severity. Surgery, for severe cases, requires fusing the vertebrates together and holding them in place with special screws so that the spine can continue to grow, but without the deep curve. The condition causes physical pain including with lengthy standing and sitting and can at times lead to paralysis, breathing difficulty and emotional and psychological challenges.

"In some cases it is best to have the surgery at as early an age as possible but there are so many people who simply cannot afford it, and in fact are on waiting lists for years. The list of persons in need of surgery increases each year, so we are inviting persons and organizations to also support the ScotiaFoundation or to contact KPH directly to help with covering the costs of surgery for these young people," said Dr Ian Neil, Head of Orthopedics at the KPH who has partnered with Scoliosis Care since inception.

Each surgery, which lasts up to 12 hours, costs approximately $500,000 and requires between 15 and 22 pedicle screws at a cost of between US$300 – US$350 per screw. The supplier of the screws is Medical Technologies Ltd, based in Jamaica. They also contributed to the surgeries by donating sourcing screws for two of the surgeries from their overseas partner Medtronic Ltd.

"Our mission is to improve health care through science and technology and we are happy to play a role in the programme and are truly inspired by the transformations we have seen taken place over the years," said Shaneka Simpson, co-ordinator, surgical services at Medical Technologies Ltd. Since 2006, Scotiabank has contributed $17.9M toward surgery and the provision of braces for children.

Dr Neil said ScotiaFoundation's support has not only helped both the scoliosis programme as well as improved the entire spinal care unit at KPH. "The contribution that has been made by the ScotiaFoundation also helps with care of spinal injury patients at the hospital in general. This partnership is an effective model that demonstrates the possibilities that can be created by private sector support of health care. I want to impress on the recipients to note that Scotiabank has reached out to them, expecting nothing in return, and so they must also in their lives seek to give back to their country and to others," said Dr Neil.