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Patients Share Their  Story


Patient Stories: Testimonials
Diane R.

Diane R.

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I was so happy to return to riding!  I have a  25 yo TB/QH cross who is quiet and safe.   I started with walking only  and now an easy trot!   I keep my stirrups long for better balance and standing  while posting. 

 I feel the riding is bringing back core strength and balance.... and  the mental health benefits go without saying! 

Happy Trails ! 


Diane R. 

“(Post-surgery,) Dr. Lenke expressed that there’s really not a lot of restriction. I’m starting to swing a golf club again, which is one of my passions; shoot hoops—play basketball with my friends. I did go to prom.Going to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is easily the best thing that could’ve happened to me.”—John


At just 16, John’s spine was so severely bent that it was literally crushing him to death. His internal organs were being pushed into each other, causing severe problems with breathing, heart function and digestion. John had already been through 17 surgeries and yet there was no solution in sight. Until John and his parents met Dr. Lawrence Lenke at the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital.

Dr. Lenke, a world renowned spine surgeon, proposed vertebral column resection (VCR) surgery, an extensive procedure that he helped develop. Basically, the idea was to remove two of the vertebrae in John’s spine—the ones that formed the “bend” of the curvature—and rejoin the two parts in a straighter configuration. The result was a complete transformation.

Today John can stand straight, his organs are in their proper place, and most importantly, he has resumed life as a normal teenager—including going to prom.

Find out more about John's story here.

John S.

“There’s always a way to just keep fighting. That’s one thing Dr. Lenke encouraged me to do. He said, ‘I’m fighting for you, so don’t give up.’ We haven’t given up on you. There’s always hope. There’s a purpose for you.” —Solomiya

“After my surgeries, I grew a few inches. I’ve never wanted to not be able to do something, and I feel like I’m already living the dream that I’ve had in my heart. I got my driver’s license about a year after my surgery, and I’ve been driving and I’ve been able to move across the country. It’s a miracle.” —Solomiya

See this full story and video at: WABC-TV

WABC-TV is proud to have taken you inside the NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital for a look at some extraordinary stories that we call Medical Marvels. It’s WABC’s Emmy-nominated digital series exclusive to

Solomiya D.

"When I was 13, during an annual physical, I was diagnosed with scoliosis at a 12 degree curve. The cause is unknown, but I have reason to believe it was from a fall I had suffered a few years prior to this discovery. I was immediately referred to an orthopedic specialist. From there he referred me to get a mold for a back brace to wear at night. The back cast was extremely tight, uncomfortable and stretched from my armpit to my mid-thigh on one side.

Six months later x-rays showed little to no improvement. The orthopedic doctor recommended a different type of brace that was even more uncomfortable than the first. This lasted six months or so. Not only was it not working, but the curve of my spine increased to 40 degrees. The reason my curve started rapidly increasing was because I was growing so fast at the age of 14-15.

On my 16th birthday, the doctor told me I should consider having surgery to fuse my spine and stop the progression. I was very uneasy about this idea, especially since I wasn’t done growing yet. The doctor referred me to see a neurosurgeon at Hershey Medical. I didn’t listen to him and decided to try alternative medicine, such as chiropractic care and therapy. Neither worked to stop my spine from increasing in degrees. The only thing they did was lower my pain level and make me feel more comfortable. Although feeling good is important, this does not help you out in the long-term.

Now I was 19 and started feeling extremely sore. Every morning when I would wake up, I would get pinched nerves constantly. I had finally decided to go see that neurosurgeon I was referred to. I went and didn’t meet with the doctor, but his physician’s assistant. They took x-rays, and said “Okay, we’ll see you in a year to see how this 54 degree curve changes.”

I was upset that they offered no help at the moment, but a year later, I went and visited them again. The second visit was exactly the same: the same assistant met with me and took x-rays, only this time my curve was 60 degrees. The curve was increasing consistently, and something had to be done.

He recommended that I have surgery and told me of a doctor who does this surgery every once and a while. I was not interested in having a doctor perform this major surgery who does it “every once and a while.”  

My mom and I started doing research on scoliosis doctors who are amazing, and this is when I first heard about Dr. Lenke. Dr. Lenke’s name kept coming up time after time—I finally decided to see if I could get an appointment with him. Within a few months, I had an appointment, and he sat down with me, looked over my x-rays and told me straight up, “You should have surgery.”

He said you can either do it now, when you’re young, or wait until you can’t stand the pain anymore, when you’re in your 40s. I said, “Let’s do it now.”

My curve was now 70 degrees, and I was done growing. I scheduled a time to have 12 vertebrae fused in my mid-back with two rods. The day before I was extremely calm—I knew I made the right choice with Dr. Lenke.

The surgery was a major success: my curve was hardly visible, and everything went according to plans. The next few days were the worst of my life, but I can promise you I’d endure the pain and have the surgery again if I had to.

Now, being a little over a full year later, I feel little to no pain in the morning, and I do everything I did before the surgery. Nothing holds me back—I rode a motorcycle three months after surgery, I’ve been to Killington Mountain snowboarding only seven months after surgery, league roller hockey and wake boarding ten months after. I could go on and on about activities I’ve done since, but the list would be too long.

I just want to say thanks, again, Dr. Lenke! "

Bryce S.

"Compared to the other doctors, Dr. Lenke was very thorough in helping me to make the right decision. He convinced me that my spine was going to the right, and any kind of partial solution was just going to have to be corrected at a later date," she says.

Convinced she found the right doctor, Susan scheduled surgery for June 2018.

On the day of the surgery, Susan was wheeled into the operating room and saw a wall covered with images of her spine. "There had to be 100 images on this massive wall of each disc of my spine. It was so impressive how thorough he was. I knew I was in the right place," she says. Dr. Lenke and his team performed an eight-hour spinal fusion surgery. She was up and moving the day after surgery. After five days in the hospital, Susan was released to her home.

Read more on Susan's story here.

Susan K.

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