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Victoria, 1

Richmond | Services: Neurosurgery

At birth, Victoria, 1, was diagnosed with diastematomyelia, a congenital disorder in which her spinal cord was split in half with a bony growth in the middle. The neurosurgery team at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU told Victoria’s mother, Stephanie, that they planned to wait until she was closer to her first birthday to repair the malformation.

“As Victoria started getting older, I noticed that she couldn’t move around very much without being uncomfortable,” Stephanie remembers. “If left untreated, she would have eventually lost function of her arms and legs entirely.”

Shortly before she turned nine months old, Victoria had surgery to remove the bony growth. The surgery was complex and took an entire day, but the surgical team didn’t encounter any complications in making the repair. No nerves were damaged in her spine, and she shouldn’t need any additional surgery in the future. Two or three days after the surgery, Stephanie started seeing her daughter’s smile emerge more and more and says that’s when she knew that she was going to be alright. Today, Victoria is hitting her developmental milestones right on track with her twin sister, Francesca, and she loves listening to music and spending time with her family, which also includes an older brother and two older sisters.

“Everyone at the hospital made me feel like they fully understood that this was my little baby, and I knew they cared about her too,” Stephanie says. “She’s been through so much and done so well. She’s a tough cookie for sure.”

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