Joyce's Story of Scoliosis Surgery

Joyce Morrison and her family live in sunny Gisborne. They used to live in Wellington but her father Val felt the pull of his Ngati Porou family back on the East Coast. Joyce was named after her Auntie Joyce who lives in Europe.

Joyce loves company and has always enjoyed the family gatherings and going to school. As she got older her spine was noticeably favouring a bend to her right side. She always had some respiratory problem: chest infection, pneumonia, a cold or flu. Her parents decided from reading the literature and discussions with surgeons that it was sensible to have an operation to keep her walking and strong before her movement became inhibited, and also to improve her health.

Such decisions are difficult and take a lot of thought and planning, especially as the operation was to be at Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland. However, the family were well looked after at Ronald McDonald House and were able to be on guard with Joyce, explaining her needs around the clock.

We were all so proud of Joyce, she was so brave and coped very well with the operation and the care involved in getting her back to normal again and being able to sit and stand more easily.

She was 12 years old at the time of her operation in August 1998. She has grown from strength to strength and has had very little respiratory problems since. Her parents believe it was the right decision.

Joyce was so full of the joy of life she made people around her happy. She was on the 1992–3 IHC advertisement for the national appeal.

In January 2007 Joyce will be 21 years old. Her surgery has kept her strong and her muscles working well. She sits up well on the floor and walks with assistance. At school she also uses a walking frame at different times of the day, to encourage some independence and keep her muscles working Exercise is very important for those who have Rett syndrome.