Meet Kira

Defying the Odds: Kira’s Inspirational Journey from Spinal Surgery to Dancing Triumph

Kira, a dancer since age two and a competitive dancer since age 6, never thought she would be stopped in her tracks from pain that might have ended her dancing career.

“When Kira’s pediatrician first noticed her scoliosis, I wasn’t too concerned,” said Kira’s mother Beth. “He thought that her curve was around 30 degrees.” Beth reached out to another dancer’s mother who also had scoliosis. She recommended they see Michelle Welborn, M.D., at Shriners Children’s Portland.

“I will never forget sitting in that room when Dr. Welborn showed us the X-ray of Kira’s back,” said Beth. Not only was the curve more severe (43 degrees) than the pediatrician thought, Dr. Welborn also diagnosed Kira with spondylolisthesis. Dr. Welborn cautioned that if Kira's curve were to progress past 50 degrees, it would likely continue to progress and could ultimately have an impact on her heart and lungs.

After monitoring her progress for several months, Kira’s care team decided that Kira would need a spinal fusion. Surgery terrified Kira and Beth. “How could she possibly ever dance again with two rods in her back?” asked Beth. “Kira cried at the thought of having surgery, but Dr. Welborn was amazing and talked with Kira until she calmed down.”

When the surgery day came, the family felt fully prepared. After Kira’s pre-op appointment, they left with a wealth of knowledge and knew exactly what to expect. “Dr. Welborn met my husband, Kira and me on the morning of her surgery,” said Beth. “She sat with us until we were 100% comfortable.”

“My surgery experience was so great,” said Kira. “When in the hospital recovering from surgery, there were always nurses at the ready to help me with whatever I needed. One of them was even nice enough to wash my hair for me!” Kira is also grateful for how smooth the recovery process was. “The surgery hardly caused me any pain because I was given medicine at the right times and had comfortable items nearby at all times.”

Since her surgery, Kira is now back to dancing. “I’m back to doing my crazy flips and tricks, which is insane,” said Kira. “I won’t lie, I did have some doubts about what I could and couldn’t do when I started dancing and moving again six months post-op. I was very impatient with myself and I felt like I had started from the beginning again. I wanted to be able to do everything again right there at that moment.” Through her persistence, Kira discovered her muscles knew what to do, and she again became an incredible performer.

In addition to competitive dancing, Kira is teaching two hip-hop classes and is maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

“I’m just so thankful that my family, friends, dance instructors, nurses and doctor all had so much faith in me and believed that I would be where I’m at today. They truly made me believe in myself.”

Kira has advice for others who might be facing a spinal fusion surgery: “It may feel like you’re starting from scratch again but you’ll get where you used to be in no time!”

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