This teen's body was 'bending by the hour.' His 18th surgery changed his life
By Admin | October 30, 2018
John Sarcona was at a baseball game when his mother Joanne found the bloodied T-shirts in his laundry hamper. His bedding was bloody too, and she knew something had gone terribly wrong.
"I told myself that this can't be happening," Joanne said. "I'm putting two and two together, and I'm trying to get a hold of John. Nobody is answering my calls or texts, and I'm frantic, my mind is running."
John, now 19, had been diagnosed at age 5 with what would become an extreme case of scoliosis and kyphosis. He'd already had 16 surgeries, with doctors placing metal implants along his spine to support his back as he grew.
When the 16-year-old finally came home after his mother noticed the bloody clothes, Joanne took him upstairs and calmly asked, "John, can you take off your shirt?"
What she saw still haunts her: metal rods protruding from her son's back. They had broken before, requiring additional surgeries to repair, but this was different. "They looked like cysts and tumors on John's back," she remembers.
Within a few weeks, John was back in the hospital for his 17th surgery to remove them once and for all, and the recovery was grueling.
"Every 15 minutes," Joanne said, "the nurses would tell John to take deep breaths. But he'd say to them, 'I can't. I'm in pain. How can I keep my oxygen levels at 99% if I'm dying here?'"
"I can't do this anymore," John told his mom, ripping off his pulse oximeter. "I want to go home."