MIRACLE MONDAY – Kourtnee Stephenson

A routine physical changed the life of Kourtnee Stephenson. “It started out with just a volleyball physical in December 2012 and the doctor suspected scoliosis,” said Autumne Willner, Kourtnee’s Mom. “We had an xray taken and the curvature was much more advanced than anticipated.”

Kourtnee and her family would soon receive the news that Kourtnee had Chiari Malformation – A brain disorder in which brain tissues extend into the spinal canal. The disorder ultimately results in a syrinx – a fluid-filled cavity in the spinal cord. In Kourtnee’s instance, her syrinx was extremely large and caused a 42 degree curve in her spine.

“Within a few days of having an MRI we were referred to a neurosurgeon,” said Autumne. “The neurosurgeon explained by performing the surgery it would open some spacing in the back of her brain to allow the fluid to flow correctly and essentially shrink the syrinx.”

After 3 surgeries, Kourtnee’s syrinx began to shrink. “Every time we had MRIs we kept hearing there is no change, no change….but that day…there was a change!” said Autumne. “ The size of the syrinx had changed from a 10 to a 7.6! It was such good news.”

Kourtnee, now 18, still struggles from time to time. “She still suffers from some headaches, back pain and tingling in her arms and hands,” said Autumne. “However, she is still the strongest person I know! Even on her worst days, she continues to amaze me!”

Kourtnee and her family are extremely grateful for the care they received at St. John’s Children’s Hospital. “We can’t brag enough on the care we received at St. John’s! From the moment we checked in until the day we were discharged, we were pleased.”

Do you have a miracle child that was treated as HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital? Facebook message us or email dave.newton@hshs.org and tell us your story! #miraclemondays

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