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Rod implants make 11-year-old a ‘Bionic Boy’ – and a pioneer

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Posted 16 February 2016 - 08:12 AM

From the Feb 14, 2016 Fresno Bee:
Rod implants make 11-year-old a ‘Bionic Boy’ – and a pioneer
by Mackenzie Mays
Anthony Wainess, 11, of Squaw Valley, left, keenly eyes his car in the ongoing race Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Clovis, Calif. Anthony, who recently began slot car racing, is the first person in the United States to have experimental spine implants in his back to help with severe scoliosis. Photo: Eric Paul Zamora, Fresno Bee
Anthony Wainess will be quick to tell you that he’s the Bionic Boy. But unlike other 11-year-olds who may claim they’re Batman or Superman, Anthony is telling the truth.
He really does have artificial body parts, and like the tiny slot cars he races for fun, he, too, can be remote-controlled.
In 2013, Anthony, who lives in Squaw Valley, became the first person in the United States to undergo a procedure that implants magnetic titanium rods into the back to correct severe scoliosis. The rods are lengthened by remote control over time so that they grow along with Anthony’s bones as he ages.
The procedure – for which the U.S Food and Drug Administration granted Anthony special approval before officially approving it last year – is designed to avoid numerous surgeries often required for early onset scoliosis, a rare form of the spine-curving disease that can interfere with lung function and can be fatal.
“I don’t feel the rods inside of me, but I feel them when they’re doing the extensions. It doesn’t hurt; it just feels like something’s moving inside of you, basically,” Anthony said.
“I can tell the difference. My back feels a lot straighter. Before, my back was really curved so I was always, like, slanted to the side. I wasn’t really ever straight when I stood up, and I could feel that all the time, so it was kind of frustrating.” 
Anthony’s not at all shy about what he has gone through. His fellow students at Dunlap Elementary School have seen the X-rays – two bright lines shining through his skeleton where the metal is positioned. He recently put on a tuxedo and traveled with his family to Newport Beach, where he stood before hundreds of adults to talk about his experience at a conference hosted by Ellipse Technologies, the company that created the procedure.
Read the rest of Anthony's story HERE.

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