10:58 AM

Scoliosis Can’t Slow Sierra

New York Daily News reports Sierra Donovan, a world class Irish step dancing champion from Scarsdale NY, was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11. With her spine at a 38 degree curvature, Sierra continued dancing competitively, however her condition worsened over time. The Donovan family met with Roger F. Widmann, MD, chief of the HSS Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Service, and at that point, Sierra’s spine was curved at approximately 60 degrees. Dr. Widmann advised the Donovan’s to consider a spinal fusion, and performed Sierra’s surgery in 2016.

New York Daily News spoke with the Donovan’s and Dr. Widmann to discuss Sierra’s case. Dr. Widmann cited, “When you’re talking about surgery, even if they [patients/families] don’t ask, people usually want to know what’s the worst thing that can happen, and what are the precautions you should take. We made it a very direct conversation.” Megan Donovan, Sierra’s mom, added, “He [Dr. Widmann] was very straightforward, very relaxed. I had decided early on not to give in to worry and his personality just fitted that perfectly.”

Six months after her surgery, Sierra danced competitively in Great Britain, where she medaled in an international competition. Since that time, she developed new interests. “Its funny, but I literally felt like a new person after the operation. I grew an inch in and a half. I had this new pep in my step. I still wanted to dance, but I wanted to try other things, too. I went out for the track team,” said Sierra.

Now age 18, Sierra has been recruited by Amherst College to run track and field beginning in September.

This story appeared in print on June 18, 2019.