SC 7-year-old’s severely curved spine corrected without regular surgeries

7-year-old Charie Toney during the August procedure (Pamela Escobar | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A 7-year-old girl is back at school in York, South Carolina, the day after having a medical procedure at Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte that lengthened rods in her back.

Charlie Toney has scoliosis, which means her spine isn’t straight. Typically, a child would need various surgeries to lengthen those rods, but a new device available in our region changes that need for more surgeries. Charlie was CHS’ first patient to get the procedure.

Charlie is a great big sister, who loves to dance and tumble around her house. She’s always been non-stop, but her back didn’t look right to her mom.

“It was just like a backward C going up her spine, we took her into the doctors,” said Courtney Toney, Charlie’s mom.

At Carolinas Healthcare System, her X-ray showed how bad the curve progressed from a C to an S with a 67-degree angle. At first, mom didn’t want surgery.

“They made her a custom brace because, at the time, I was completely… I could not deal with the surgery,” said Courtney Toney. “The surgery was every three months they wanted to add rods to her back. That was pulling her out of school every three months. They’re like, ‘you’re going to have to teach her how to walk, you’re going to have to teach her how to potty train every three months of her life.'”

Charlie didn’t like the brace, and said it was uncomfortable to sleep in.

“I was up all night,” the young girl said.

Charlie had surgery in June, but she didn’t get traditional rods. And she won’t need recurring surgeries.

“They call it Magec and, honestly it is magic. Honestly, I was very upset I didn’t want to do it, very hysterical as a mother, but when they did it, it was magic. It went from 67 to 11 degrees in one day,” the mother said.

In August, with the Magec device in her back, Charlie needed to be adjusted.

“I promise it doesn’t hurt,” said Dr. Kelly Vanderhave to Charlie before the procedure.

The machine works on the outside of her back with magnets.

“It allows the rod to telescope, so it provides lengthen from the inside,” said Vanderhave, who comforted her during the procedure.

“That tickles,” Charlie told the doctor. Afterward Charlie was back to being great.

“We hope we don’t see a lot of 7-year-olds with big 60 or 70-degree curves, but now if patients know that it’s an option, I think this a much better option than the traditional growing rods,” Vanderhave said.

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