Story of Healing

Hannah Merritt

Cameron Parish


"I’m glad for the preventative things that the doctor gave me, because I don’t want surgery and I don’t want a rod in my back."

If there’s one thing 17-year-old Hannah Merritt knows how to do, it’s to stay ahead of her curve – her spinal curve, that is. When she was 11 years old, Hannah and her mother, Amanda, went to her pediatrician in their hometown of Hackberry, Louisiana in Cameron parish for her annual well visit. Hannah’s pediatrician could tell with one look at her back that Hannah had scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.

After having x-rays done to get a better view of her spinal curve, her pediatrician decided it was not severe enough to see a specialist just yet. Fast forward two years, and Hannah, who was very active in track and field, softball, and cheerleading, began having back pain. Hannah returned to her pediatrician, and after a new panel of x-rays confirmed that Hannah’s spinal curvature had, in fact, gotten worse, she was referred to Dr. Carter Clement, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

When Hannah and Amanda arrived at Children’s Hospital New Orleans after their nearly four-hour drive, the first thing they did was more x-rays to check in on her spine. Then they met with Dr. Clement. “He was really kind and made me feel comfortable to tell him everything I was feeling with my back,” explained Hannah. From there, Dr. Clement evaluated the x-rays and told Hannah that although the degree of her spinal curvature had worsened over the years, she wouldn’t need surgery. “He showed me exercises I could do to strengthen my spine and prevent it from getting worse,” remembered Hannah. “He also showed me how to lift correctly so I don’t strain my back if I’m lifting heavy things, which I had to do at my job at our local rec center.”

Today Hannah is a senior in high school and was recently crowned Homecoming Queen. She stays active in cheerleading and still works at the rec center. “I’m glad for the preventative things that the doctor gave me, because I don’t want surgery and I don’t want a rod in my back,” said Hannah. After she graduates this fall, Hannah looks forward to studying criminal justice and one day becoming a probation officer.

Click here to learn more about the orthopedics team at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.