Magnetic attraction gives Matthew chance to stand tall

RCH patient Matthew Brown. Photo courtesy of The Age.

Seven-year-old Matthew Brown has scoliosis and is too young to have spinal fusion surgery that would permanently correct the bend in his back. But his scoliosis places pressure on his heart, which is also compromised by a genetic disorder of his connective tissue known as Marfan syndrome.

In September 2011, Matthew was one of the youngest patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital to be implanted with a new rod that can be lengthened 0.2 of a millimetre each day by his parents, eliminating the need for frequent operations.

RCH director of clinical orthopaedics Ian Torode said that rather than a ”saw-tooth elongation of the spine where you let children grow, then open them up and ratchet up the rod” – the incremental growth that could be achieved with the magnetised rod was far gentler on small bodies.

”Every day as they grow we’re growing with them,” he said.

Matthew’s parents Paul and Jackie Brown have not yet started using the magnet but said seeing their boy standing upright after the surgery had been astounding.

Click here to read the full story on Matthew in The Age.

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