When Van was eight months old, his family noticed he wasn’t growing or developing like he should. And at 10 months old Van was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), type 2, a genetic neuromuscular condition that affects every single muscle in his body. His scoliosis caused him to need back surgery.
Van was one of the first patients in Canada to use a new, innovative technology called magnetic controlled growth rods, or MAGEC rods. These rods can be lengthened in the clinic using a large magnet on the surface of his skin, meaning fewer surgeries in his future.
Since surgery, Van has grown two and a half centimeters and his overall health has greatly improved.
Van is full of life with an outgoing personality, witty humour and ability to speak in front of big crowds that definitely sets him apart. He is brave and experienced beyond his years. Van proudly says he is ‘the same as everyone else, except I’m just not as strong and use a wheelchair’.