Evonte was born with scoliosis and fused ribs, with a spine curvature of more than 50 degrees. Despite being small for his age and the phyisical problems he had, Evonte enjoys riding bikes, playing basketball, and playing outside with his brothers and sister. However, due to the scoliosis and fused ribs,Evonte’s lung capacity was small. As his scoliosis progressed, problems with lung capacity grew worse.
At age 3, Evonte underwent spinal fusion surgery, due to the rapid progression of his spine curvature. For six months following the surgery, he wore a back brace. Although the fusion surgery prevented the abnormally shaped bones in his spine that were causing the curver to further deform his spine, it was not enough to help his lungs to grow as he did.
When he was 9 years old, Evonte received his initial VEPTR implant at the Campbell Clinic. Implanted by Dr. Jeffrey Sawyer and Dr. Robert Warner, the VEPTR allows spine surgeons to halt and sometimes correct spine curvatures; in addition, the device allows a patient's lungs to grow and develop, as the device grows with the patient. This can be critical to patients with spine and chest wall deformities, as children whose lungs are too small can have a wide variety of medical problems including fatigue, poor growth and weight gain, frequent respiratory infections and, in severe cases, even death.
After recovering from the surgery, Evonte is back in school, and back to being the active boy he was. He celebrated his sister's birthday just months after his surgery, even taking his turn jumping in the moon-bounce. “You can see a difference in the way he sits and he walks,” said Yolanda Cathey, Evonte’s mother. “He’s sitting up straighter and walking taller. He looks really good.”