Madeleine's Spine Story

Jun 6, 2019

Family travels from Canada to Palm Beach Children's Hospital to help improve daughter's quality of life. 

Madeleine Murray, Spine Surgery Patient, Paley Orthopedic Institute

Madeleine Murray Standing by a Tree 

When Dan Murray and his wife, Laura, found out that their son, Sutherland, would be a big brother, they were ecstatic. The family soon began envisioning what their future would be like with their baby girl, Madeleine, as they prepared for her arrival. Soon after she was born, however, the Murrays’ dreams for their daughter were unexpectedly put on hold as she was diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a term used to describe congenital joint contractures, or curves. As she grew older, Madeleine also developed scoliosis, kyphosis, a forward bending of the back, and additional deformities.

“As parents, Laura and I want the best for our children so I devoted my time to finding a specialist that could help improve my daughter’s quality of life,” expresses Dan. “We live in Victoria, British Columbia, so I started my research throughout Canada, which led me to a local surgeon who seemed like he could help resolve Madeleine’s spinal afflictions.”

Unfortunately, the first procedure performed in Canada didn’t have the desired outcome and, to the Murray’s dismay, the surgical attempt to repair the effects of the failed procedure only worsened Madeleine’s condition. With her spine now bent forward at an alarming 140 degree angle, about the same curve as an umbrella handle, Madeleine’s heart, lungs and other organs were now compromised as there was hardly any internal room for growth. Dan knew that his time to find a solution was running out.

“I focused all of my efforts on researching Madeleine’s conditions, what resources were available in Canada and speaking with multiple specialists we hoped could help us,” recalls Dan. “Including the time I spent searching before Madeleine’s two failed surgeries, my nine year journey finally led me to Dr. David Feldman at the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital.”

Dr. Feldman, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Paley Orthopedic & Spine Institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center, specializes in scoliosis, among other spinal conditions. In addition to surgical solutions, he has also dedicated his career to early detection and implementing non-surgical techniques to help his patients reach their highest potential. Knowing Dr. Feldman’s experience and placing their entire trust in him and the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, the Murrays made the 13 hour trip from Victoria to West Palm Beach to start their daughter’s healing journey.

The root of Madeleine’s extreme spinal curve was a deformed vertebra, caused by the two failed surgeries she underwent in Canada. Dr. Feldman was able to surgically remove this piece of her spine, resulting in the dramatic change of a 140 degree curve to a 60 degree curve. Thanks to this procedure, Madeleine is no longer subjected to living with her chin pressed to her chest. She is now able to see what’s going on right in front of her, a simple pleasure she hadn’t been able to enjoy for about a year.