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Kenneth Reese’s Christmas list was short and sweet last year: To join his adult grandson in a little Yuletide shopping.

“It seems far from ordinary,” said the sixty-twoyear- old Wilmington resident, “but with all I’d been through, it was the gift I wanted most.” Fortunately, Kenneth got his Christmas wish thanks to New Hanover Regional Medical Center and a surgical procedure that corrected his spinal deformity, allowing him to stand straight and return to a life full of activity.

Kenneth’s back troubles began in the early ’80s: First bone spurs in his spine that produced excruciating pain, making it difficult for him to walk, then two ruptured discs and leaking spinal fluid. His search for medical treatment led him over great distances and included multiple surgeries – but still no relief.

“By this time Kenneth was almost completely bent over and in constant pain,” said Reba Reese, Kenneth’s wife. “He couldn’t sit at the dinner table or hug you and look you straight in the eye. But we believe in miracles, so we were still holding out for an answer to our prayers.”

That answer soon came in the form of neurosurgeon Dr. George Alsina of the NHRMC Spine Center.

“When I met Mr. Reese, he had a lumbar kyphoscoliotic deformity, or abnormal curvature of the spine, with debilitating back pain and leg pain,” said Dr. Alsina. “Up to that point, his


pain had been medically managed through a pain pump, injectiontherapy and prescribed oral narcotics.”

In July 2009, in a highly complex, multi-phase surgery, Kenneth underwent correction for his lumbar kyphoscoliosis deformity, which included decompression for thoracic spinal stenosis and instrumented thoracolumbar fusion, as well as removal of his pain pump, said Dr. Alsina, who performed the surgery.

“The surgery began on a Thursday, with the final phase completed the following Monday,” said Kenneth, who between surgeries and on the weekend was cared for in NHRMC’s Intensive Care Unit. “By the end of that week I was up and on my way to rehabilitation.” Reba says it was a moment she’ll never forget: “When he got up out of the hospital bed, he was standing straight. We looked him right in the eyes and hugged him. Everyone just started crying.”

“The surgery significantly improved Mr. Reese’s ability to walk and participate in normal daily activities many of us take for granted,” said Dr. Alsina.

Those activities – sitting up straight at the dinner table, taking a vacation, shopping with his grandson – are now very real, everyday parts of his life, said Kenneth.


“It had been so long since I was able to stand up straight and do the things I loved doing,” said Kenneth. “I am just so thankful for Dr. Alsina and this procedure. It was a blessing.”

Join NHRMC spine specialists for a free back and spine seminar on Thursday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. at NHRMC’s Surgical Pavilion. To reserve your space today, call VitaLine at 815.5188.


In Need of Back, Neck
or Spine Care?


The following is a list of local neurosurgical and orthopedic spine practices that can advise on a range of back, neck or spine treatment options.

  • Atlantic Neurosurgical and Spine Specialists
  • Atlantic Orthopedics PA
  • Coastal Neurosurgical Assoc. and Spine Center PA
  • Port City Neurosurgery & Spine
  • Coastal Rehabilitation Medicine Associates/Independence Back Institute
  • Wilmington Orthopedic Group
2131 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401  |  910.343.7000