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April Calendar Kid: Madeline’s making moves on the soccer field again
April 14, 2023
CHoR calendar kid Madeline holding binoculars and smiling

    Finding relief and returning to soccer after neurosurgery at CHoR

    As Madeline Saufley and her high school soccer team run onto the field, she and her parents can’t help but think there was a time they didn’t know if this would be possible.

    A debilitating, but unknown injury

    A competitive soccer player, and overall active teen, then 13-year-old Madeline began experiencing excruciating pain around Halloween 2021. Her parents took her to the doctor, assuming it was a sports-related injury. Madeline was diagnosed with a hamstring strain and began a series of conservative treatments.

    Rather than getting better, Madeline’s pain increased to the point that she couldn’t walk. Mother’s intuition prompted her mom, Dana, to push for an MRI. That’s when it was discovered that Madeline had a massive L5-S1 herniated disc. The disc was compressing her nerve root which explained the pain down her leg. 

    Madeline needed swift and specialized pediatric care

    A family friend recommended that the Saufleys come to CHoR and see neurosurgeon, Dr. Gary Tye.

    “I saw Madeline in clinic and she was miserable. She needed relief and she wasn’t getting it through the more conservative approaches, so I added her to my surgery schedule for the next day,” said Dr. Tye. “I removed a small portion of the bone and ligament near the nerve root to remove the disc fragment and relieve compression.”

    Dr. Tye is one of only 200 pediatric neurosurgeons throughout the country, and two at CHoR, with the specialized training and expertise to delicately operate on kids’ developing nervous systems. While the entire procedure took only about an hour, spinal surgery is serious nonetheless.

    “Words fail me to express the gratitude we have for her medical team,” said Dana. “Dr. Tye and his dream team were patient, empathetic and very informative through the entire process.”

    Living the teen life, fun and pain-free

    CHoR patient Madeline playing soccerWithin a couple days, Madeline was up and walking. It wasn’t long before she was back to all her favorite things – spending time with her friends and family, going to the beach, shopping at the mall and, of course, playing soccer. She continued to see Dr. Tye for several follow-up visits to make sure she was functioning and feeling her best.

    “In the months leading up to her surgery she was bedridden, but she never gave up. Her faith never waned, and she never lost her spark,” said Dad, Matt. “Madeline is funny, determined, motivated and a joy to be around.”

    Madeline’s grit and determination to get back on the soccer field were unmatched too. She recently made her high school team – and after all she’s been through, each goal means so much more than simply a point on the score board.

    All the specialized neuro care kids and teens need, right here at CHoR – learn more.


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