140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

North Dakota Standing Tall

 Shriners help Watford City teen through tough growth spurt

By Jacob Brooks, Williston Herald

Jacob Brooks | Williston Herald Kira Kostad, 17, is about to enter her senior year at Watford City High School. She will do so after battling with kyphosis for the past five years.

Watford City teenager Kira Kostad is feeling good and walking tall, but it wasn't always so. Kira, 17, is on the tail end of a five-year journey that has taken her back and forth to Minnesota for medical treatment and a surgery that completely rebuilt her spine with dozens of titanium rods.

It all started when Kira was 12 years old, and her parents and friends noticed a curvature in the girl's spine.

"It got really bad," said Kira's mother, Tina Kostad.

Kira was eventually diagnosed with a type of kyphosis, a condition that causes the spine to grow irregularly and can have lifelong painful effects.

While Kira's condition was not causing her pain, she was noticeably walking at an ever-increasing angle, her mother said. When she was 13, she had to wear a body brace to try and keep the condition in check.

The brace was a heavy, cumbersome device that Kira had to wear to school and everywhere else. In the last five years, wearing that brace was probably the most difficult part of the whole ordeal.

But things changed when Tina Kostad noticed an ad in the Williston Herald that representatives of Shriners Hospital for Children in Minneapolis would be in Bismarck for consultation.

Things took off from there, and doctors discovered Kira had Scheuermann's kyphosis, which can occur in children and growing teenagers, and can be corrected with surgery.

Normally, a surgery of this type would cost tens of thousands of dollars or more in medical expenses — a cost that would be hard to come by for Tina Kostad, an elementary school lunch lady, and her husband, who were also raising two other children.

But at the Shriner's Hospital, all expenses were paid. And the Williston Shrine Club provided the transportation costs to and from the Twin Cities, Tina Kostad said.

The Shriners is a fraternal organization recognized for its social and philanthropic activities.

"With the Shriners, we knew she would be well taken care of," Tina Kostad said.

Still, the decision to get the surgery was not easy. Even though she walked at an angle, Kira felt fine. She could walk, run, play with dogs and do everything else she normally did.

"That was probably the hardest part, because to her, everything was fine," Tina Kostad said.

It was a tough call, but the family decided to go through with the surgery, which occurred in February 2009.

Kira had to stay in the hospital about 10 days afterwards, and on the way back to Watford City had to lay on an inflatable bed in the back of the car.

Full recovery took about a year, and there are still some things Kira can never do, such as ride roller coasters.

But she's OK with that. As she prepares to enter her senior year at Watford City High School, she will have no problem doing the things she enjoys such as reading, drawing, hanging out with friends and playing with dogs.

And she will be looking good and standing tall while she does it.

Tina Kostad said the journey would have been much more difficult without the Shriners.

"We would never have had the care that we had," she said. "Thank you is never enough."

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