Story of Healing

Mattie Saterfiel

Ouachita Parish

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"She can truly do whatever she wants. She’s a miracle child."

Mattie Saterfiel was born in 2006, with a diaphragmatic hernia, or a hole in her diaphragm. She was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, for 21 days, and stayed in intensive care at Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas for nearly four months. 

When Mattie was able to go home to West Monroe, Louisiana, her mom, Katrina, stayed home with her because she required constant care. Mattie’s dad, Matt, recalls a number of follow up doctors’ appointments during that time. 
“Our doctor at the time was warning us about scoliosis,” shared Matt. “I just remember those tests in school where our teacher looked at our spine, and I thought, oh that’s no big deal. Well, it ended up being a very big deal.”

That’s when the Saterfiel family came to Children’s Hospital New Orleans and met with Dr. Andrew King, a pediatric orthopedist, who recommended that Mattie have surgery, as the curve in her spine was becoming significant. Mattie’s first surgery to insert vector rods in her spine took place the summer before she entered first grade. This first surgery was successful, and even alleviated other issues that Mattie was battling as a consequence of scoliosis, like severe abdominal pains and stomach issues. 

With Mattie’s growth progressing, she had to received additional spinal surgeries every six months to adjust or replace the rods to coincide with her growth. 

“It was very difficult for Mattie,” Matt shared. “It was like every summer and Christmas holiday, we knew where we were going to be; but, Mattie, she handled it like a trooper.”

A few years later, Dr. King shared information about a new piece of orthopedic technology called the MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) System. Part of this system includes MAGEC growing rods, which are implantable rods used to the brace the spine and are adjusted with an external remote control to coincide with the child’s growth progression and eliminates the need for constant surgeries.

“They were magic indeed,” Matt said with a chuckle. “The results were incredible.”

When needed, Mattie would have her MAGEC rods adjusted, and she was able to see Dr. King at a clinic in Monroe, rather than having to travel to New Orleans each time. 

“It was really a nice thing for us to see Dr. King in Monroe,” said Matt. “Of course, we would travel however far we needed to for our child, but it really did save a lot of time and expenses for our family.”

In July 2019, Mattie’s MAGEC rods had been extended as far as allowed, and Dr. King ultimately decided the best path forward was to insert permanent rods along her spine. Dr. R.C. Clement, an orthopedic surgeon, performed that surgery.

“That surgery took a really long time,” remembered Matt. “But it was worth it and she suffered zero side effects. Mattie has done extremely well ever since. You know, when she was first placed on ECMO, there was not a lot of hope for her, but she has come so far and did not experience any looming issues from being on ECMO. She can truly do whatever she wants. She’s a miracle child.”

Reflecting on their time with Children’s Hospital New Orleans, Matt shared, “The care Mattie received was top notch, and we always were able to get our questions answered. Whenever we walked into the building, we could feel the empathy and that was much appreciated.”

Mattie is now a thriving high school freshman. She plays soccer, runs cross country, and recently attended her first Homecoming.

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