Local News

Brackets Help To Straighten Out Young Boy's Body

Posted December 9, 2005

— Children often dream of what they will be when they grow up. But for one boy, just growing up was the dream. A rare chest condition threatened to cut his life short, but an experimental device is helping the boy grow.

Daniel O'Rourke was born with some of the ribs on his left side fused together. His right side grew properly, causing his body to grow crooked.

"He has thoracic constriction syndrome. Essentially, he does not have enough room for his lungs," said Dr. Harold Van Bosse, of the New York University Medical Center.

Baseball is O'Rourke's favorite sport, but playing was difficult. The constricted lungs made him tire easily. He was also getting sick more often, and recently fought off pneumonia.

"He was looking at getting sicker and sicker and probably not surviving past early adulthood," Van Bosse said.

Because the rib problem is rare, there are no approved treatments. However, doctors were able to get a humanitarian exemption from the Food and Drug Administration and try an experimental device -- a titanium bracket called VEPTER.

Two of those devices were placed in Daniel. One opens up the chest, making room for his lungs. The other helps straighten out his body.

A month and a half after the procedure, O'Rourke can keep up with other kids.

"My rib is getting better. I run around for a long time," he said.

X-rays show his body is starting to straighten. The device is expandable, so it will grow with him.

"Every six months, you come and you open it up a little bit, so you keep on kind of adjusting for growth," Van Bosse said.

When he grows up, O'Rourke could have a new device put in or he may keep the one he has.


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