Fifteen-year-old Madison Davis was born with the heart of an athlete. A runner since elementary school, she joined her school’s cross country team in eighth grade and came in third in her age group in the Charlotte Racefest 10K, one of the largest races in Charlotte. She was also born with scoliosis, a moderate curve in her spine that became more severe as she grew during adolescence. 

“Aside from the obvious curvature, Madison noticed it was getting harder to sit all day in the chairs at school,” says her mom Lynne. “Although she wasn’t experiencing a lot of pain, she began to lean or slump more to one side in order to be more comfortable. She noticed that her posture was also making it more difficult for her to maintain proper form when she ran.” Eventually, the scoliosis began making it tough for Madison to find clothes that fit properly, a significant problem for anyone, but especially challenging for a teenager. 

By the summer of 2014, Madison’s spinal curvature was around 65 degrees – anyone whose spine measures more than 50 degrees on an X-ray is a candidate for spinal surgery. Madison and her mom did a lot of research before meeting with Levine Children’s Hospital’s Kelly VanderHave, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon, so they were prepared for a discussion of the risks and benefits of surgery. 

At Levine Children’s Hospital, a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and child life specialists prepare each patient for surgery. “On the day of Madison’s pre-op appointment, we met with ‘the Caitlins,’ as Madison likes to call them,” Lynne says. “One is a child life specialist, and the other is a nurse from One-Day Surgery, who had experienced this same surgery herself. They were both phenomenal in helping to decrease Madison’s anxiety – and mine!” 

A week and a half after surgery, Madison was able to take a short walk on a local greenway. Though she was initially frustrated by her slow recovery, she kept pushing herself and was cleared by Dr. VanderHave to jog slowly after three months. Today, Madison has been able to return to the activities she loved before surgery with no restrictions. 

“Madison’s determination and the support she received from her coach, her team and Dr. VanderHave helped her to improve her performance and make it to the South Carolina Cross Country State finals with a 5K time of 22:40 – just five months after surgery,” Lynne says. “She also received the coach’s award for Most Improved Runner. This semester she’s running 1- and 2-mile events for track. Her most recent 1-mile time is close to her pre-surgery PR (personal record) at 6:38!”