You would never know it by looking at him, but on Thanksgiving Day, then 18-year old Devon D'Aurora underwent major emergency surgery to remove a blood clot within his spinal column causing paralysis from the chest down.
It all started when Devon experienced shooting pain and temporary loss of feeling in his legs after he purposefully "cracked" his back by stretching against his chair during class at Springboro High School - a habit of his at the time. He was taken by ambulance to Sycamore Hospital where a CT scan was performed. Because nothing was found, he was stabilized and returned home to rest with medication. The next day, however, his condition worsened so he returned to the hospital where an MRI revealed the blood clot compressing his spinal cord. He was then admitted to Kettering Medical Center's ICU. Within hours slight signs of decreased movement became full blown paralysis from the chest down. He was given morphine to help manage the excruciating pain in his back.
Doctors decided they had to perform emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord in hopes of reversing the paralysis. The longer he was paralyzed, the worse his chances for a full recovery. The best way to help Devon was to perform a laminectomy - a surgical procedure that would remove the spinous processes (the boney coverings that you can feel on your back) from seven of his vertebrae to relieve the pressure and allow them to drain the blood that had collected in his spine.
Following surgery, Devon remained in the ICU for five days where, at first, the only movement he could manage was wiggling the toes on a single foot. He was moved to the neuro floor where rehabilitation staff worked with him to stimulate feeling in his legs, to sit unassisted and stand. As a young and otherwise healthy individual, Devon's recovery progressed quickly. He moved to the inpatient rehabilitation unit and used a walker one day, then a cane the next day. He was fitted with a stabilizing brace for his torso. After two weeks of work with our rehabilitation staff - using the bike, balance machine, and our Nintendo Wii video game console - his mobility continuously increased. Once his inpatient stay was complete, he finished his rehabilitation with regular visits to his surgeon's office and physical therapy.
Devon was able to return to high school full-time, and today, he's a normal, active college graduate of Eastern Kentucky University.