Story of Hope – A boy with the gentlest of spirits and the heart of a warrior!
We would like to introduce Jostin Torrentes Oviedo, a very courageous 11 year old boy from Costa Rica. Our surgeons selected Jostin for the SpineHope U.S. Hub Program due to the severity of his kyphoscoliosis. His spine anatomy was extremely abnormal and he was in need of complex spine surgery. But, there is more to his story that we would like to share…
At the age of only 7 years old, Jostin was admitted to the National Children’s Hospital in Costa Rica with considerable pain in the middle of his back, weakness in limbs, balance issues and coordination problems. His loving parents had no idea what was wrong with their precious son or why he was in so much pain. Fears beyond their imagination came true when the doctors told them he had cancer. Little Jostin was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord and thoracic tumor with acute medullary compression.
Despite financial pressures, his parents were determined to get their son the care he needed. In 2013, Jostin underwent his first surgery where a complete spinal decompression was performed. Soon after his recovery, he began an intense first round of chemotherapy which ended in July 2014. At the end of the chemotherapy, the tumor still was present but had reduced considerably in size. In September 2014, Jostin underwent a second surgery. Once he recovered, he started a second round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Thankfully, he does not need any more radical cancer treatment at this time and has been in remission since 2015. Jostin’s body has been battling several conditions at this time. He experiences significant skin issues caused by his radiation treatment, scar tissue along his spinal column, numbness in his extremities, weakness in his arms and severe kyphoscoliosis which caused him a significant amount of pain. The severity of his kyphoscoliosis made it impossible to stand or sit for long periods of time. He struggled to sleep and was self-conscience about the way his body looked. The kyphoscoliosis continued to worsen and was starting to collapse his lung, causing him breathing difficulties and shortness of breath.
Jostin’s journey has been a difficult one, not just for Jostin but for his entire family. Due to the daily care Jostin needs, his Father was forced to quit his job to be a stay at home Dad, with only his Mother able to provide for the family. Due to the costs and hardships involved, it has been a struggle for the family to find a way to get him the care he needs. Thanks to several generous donors, SpineHope was able to provide Jostin and his family the help they needed.
On May 15, 2017, pediatric spine surgeon, Dr. Ryan Murdock, from Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics and SpineHope’s Assistant Medical Director, performed his delicate and complicated surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. His 9 hour operation was smooth and he is recovering well. He walks at least 3 times a day and is experiencing minimal pain.
Those who are responsible for Jostin’s travel and surgery, donating money, time, supplies, equipment and services, include:
- Dr. Ryan Murdock of Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics
- Dell Childrens of Central Texas & Seton Family Services
- Mercy Medical/American Airlines
- ALG Comprehensive Immigration
- ARA Austin Radiological Association
- Dr. Elena Ruiz & Bee Caves Pediatrics
- Capital Anesthesia Association
- Carlos Pacheco-Murillo, Consul General of Costa Rica
- Austin Children’s Chest Association
- Medtronic Spine
- NuVasive, Inc.
- Pediatric Critical Care Associates
- Pediatric Specialty Services
- Ronald McDonald House
- ‘Specially for Children
- Children’s Hospital Subspecialists of Central Texas
- Seton Children’s Ear Nose & Throat Center
- Seton UT/Southwestern University Physicians Group
- Several Local Austin Costa Rican community volunteers
Jostin is a strong boy who, despite the pain and inability to have a healthy childhood, continues to fight. He wants to have the chance at a normal childhood. He dreams of playing ball with his older brother, being able to ride a bicycle and simply having the ability to breathe normally. He would like to go to the pool and feel confident enough to take his shirt off. In spite of all his surgeries, cancer treatments and pain, Jostin has never been held back in school. He loves school and studies very hard. He remains determined to be a successful student so that he can one day achieve his ultimate dream, to become an astronaut and travel towards the stars.
Jostin would like to tell other kids going through similar health struggles to be strong, stay together as a family and continue to have faith. Through it all, this young man is grateful for the support he has received and, despite the pain, remains a boy with the gentlest of spirits and the heart of a warrior. Thank you for reading his story!