Walking Tall Project – May 2017

Walking Tall Surgical Team

Walking Tall Surgical Team

Pediatric Scoliosis Surgery Mission Team

  • 21 children receiving diagnostic evaluations (14 SVG, 5 St. Lucia, 2 Grenada)
  • 9 surgeries ( 1 child, 8 teenagers)
  • 3 SVG children received surgeries. (others anticipated for surgery in May did not due to school exams) These children will be prioritized for the next two missions.


Upon last fall’s gift confirmation from the Mustique Charitable Foundation, World Pediatric Project sprung into action to schedule a first time, second scoliosis/ spine repair team within a year to St. Vincent through the Walking Tall program to further address the significant need and waiting list of children and teenagers afflicted with scoliosis. Given the procedure complexity, surgical expertise needed, and cost of the hardware implants, without assistance from World Pediatric Project and the generous support of the Mustique Charitable Foundation and the spine hardware vendor, in this case, Medtronic, few of these children would have a chance for relief of this progressively debilitating condition. The toll of untreated scoliosis is all encompassing, from sometimes dire medical consequences to the lungs and other vital organs of the body, to the social and emotional effects of appearance and inability to participate normally in physical activities.
An unforeseen additional “gift” from the Mustique Charitable Foundation was the opportunity to invite the involvement of a new WPP spine team. Lead surgeon, Dr. Steven Hwang and his team from Shriners Hospital for Children– Philadelphia quickly impressed the WPP team on the ground in St. Vincent and the staff at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in their skill, efficiency, and overall joy they exhibited to be working with WPP in St. Vincent. By all involved, including Dr. Hwang’s enthusiasm to continue he and his team’s involvement for future surgery missions to St. Vincent, World Pediatric Project is so pleased to have gained another outstanding addition to our ranks of pediatric specialist surgery teams!

Lynessa, 15 years

Jarussa, 18 years

Sue-nique, 12 years

Velanie, 14 years

Carlos, 6 years

Noel, 16 years

Kimesha, 17 years

Ronnie, 18 years

Drew-Ann, 16 years

Rollister, 16 years

Shennelia, 15 years

Jonique, 16 years

Roniqueka, 16 years

Andrea, 12 years

First Team in new WPP – Dedicated Operating Room

Of special note this year, is the debut use of the newly dedicated WPP Operating Theatre.  The specialized orthopedic table, bright lights and other amenities made each surgery more comfortable for the team and efficienct.

A special high-tech “Jackson Table” designed specifically for spine surgeries allowing optimal positioning of the patient for surgery

Dr. Swartz checking the settings on the new anesthesiology machine

the Yag Laser will allow WPP ophthalmologists to perform congenital cataract surgeries

With more than $2 million investment in state-of-the-art equipment made possible by several generous contributors, and the facility space at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital contributed by the government of St. Vincent, this modern facility will now support increasing the volume of WPP teams to the region and capability to perform additionally complex surgeries.
Dr. Steve Hwang

Dr. Steve Hwang

Pediatric Scoliosis Surgery Mission Team

“I was so pleased to have the honor of being the first surgeon to use the new World Pediatric Project Operating Theatre at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. The spacious OR and specialized equipment assured that our patients received the best care possible in a safe, professional environment.”
- Dr. Steve Hwang



Velanie, age 14 from Georgetown, SVG , has six brothers and loves to hang out with friends. She can’t wait to get better and walk with her friends to get French fries! She is feeling more confident than ever now with her surgery completed and has returned to school which makes her very, very happy.

"I can walk around now feeling happy that the problem is solved... I stand in front of the mirror and smile… After everything is over I'll stand in front of the mirror and say, it was all worth it ."

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Text message to WPP team leader after Velanie returned home.


15-year-old Shenniella from Richland Park, St. Vincent, was the last surgery for the week and 57th patient receiving spine repair surgery since WPP first began this surgery in-country 6 years ago.

She definitely won the sweetest smile award! Dr. Hwang, was amazed how brave she and all of the kids were.


For 12-year-old Sue-Nique from St. David, SVG, getting her surgery now was so important as she would soon be going through a growth spurt and her scoliosis could have gotten much, much worse over the next year.

She is oldest of four children in her family and loves to read.

She told the team she can’t wait to get back to playing her favorite sports of netball, soccer, basketball and volleyball!


Dr. Hwang with a grateful mom!

Parents of the children helped

Dr. Hwang greeting and reassuring patient prior to her surgery

Clinic evaluation observing patient’s spine when extended

checking the x-rays

The WPP team was welcomed for an evening reception at the Prime Minister’s home.

Medtronic representative Caitlyn Mabry prepares the needed hardware selection for a patient


Senior Program Director, Kate Corbett coordinated Walking Tall mission with Dr. Hwang and team and secured spine implant hardware contribution valued at $270k from Medtronic.

Dr. Hwang taught two continuing medical education (CME’s) sessions for local physicians and medical students.



Senior Program Director, Kate Corbett