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Spine surgery gives Little Rock 6-year-old new hope

In 2016, Alexander was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy or S.M.A. His spine was at 80% curvature, and his organs and lungs were being constricted.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Brothers Alexander and Luke love to play together inside their “Boys Kingdom." Alex, 6, is a creator and hopes to be a scientist one day.

“I even have an invention game on my iPad,” Alex said.

Alexander lives life to the fullest, however that wasn’t the case just a few years ago. It's something his mother Olivia Enderlin remembers all too well.

“It was hard," Enderlin said. "It was hard to see him not be able to sit up straight. He was always at a curve.”

In 2016, Alexander was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy or S.M.A. 

“He struggled with eating and breathing,” Enderlin said. 

His spine was at 80% curvature, and his organs and lungs were being impacted and constricted. 

“The degree was getting worse as he was growing longer and unable to have the muscle capacity to hold him up straight,” Enderlin said.

That’s when the Enderlin family met with Dr. David Bumpass with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and UAMS. 

“We had discussed that Alex was going to need surgery at some point in his childhood," Dr. Bumpass said. "We had that discussion over about a year.”

He had a surgery with Dr. Bumpass in 2020 to implant magnetic rods that expand and brace the spine while Alexander continued growing.

“When we had to do the operation, it went great," Dr. Bumpass said. "I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations including mine. Very happy with the outcome and since then he’s done wonderfully.” 

Its amazing news for Alexander and especially his family.

“It’s been a blessing ever since we had the surgery," Enderlin said. "He sits up straight, a lot stronger. He hasn’t been sick, he swallows his food a lot easier.”

Alexander now has a lengthening procedure with Dr. Bumpass every three months as he continues to grow, but because of medical advances it does not require surgery like it used to.