By Mary E. Hart
Happy 65th birthday to legendary musician John Cougar Mellencamp, who goes by John Mellencamp these days. Did you know that Mellencamp was one of three babies who were born with spina bifida at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis? In an odd coincidence, October is also Spina Bifida Awareness Month.
If you don’t know what spina bifida is, it quite literally means “split spine”. This birth defect occurs before birth and happens when the spinal column stays open instead of closing as it should, often leading to the spinal cord growing outside of the body. If surgery isn’t performed (either because the spina bifida hasn’t been detected or surgery won’t help), spina bifida can cause paralysis, which would require the use of a wheelchair.
At the National Telecommuting Institute (NTI), we work to help Americans with disabilities, including those with spina bifida who use a wheelchair or don’t, to find a work-from-home job that will be suitable for them and where they can succeed and know that they’re contributing to society.
In the case of Mellencamp, he and the two other babies all underwent a first-ever 18-hour neurosurgery for spina bifida at Riley Hospital. One of the babies died during the surgery; one lived til 14 and then passed on; and Mellencamp’s was a success. In fact, he didn’t even know he had had surgery as an infant until he was nine or ten years old and a child asked him about the large scar on the back of his neck. Mellencamp asked his parents about it and was told he had an operation when he was a baby. He learned more about spina bifida as he was older.
A few years ago, Mellencamp got the chance to meet the neurosurgeon that performed his life-saving surgery: Dr. Robert Heimburger. Dr. Heimburger remembered Mellencamp’s surgery as it was the one of the first surgeries they’d done for spina bifida.
Mellencamp will be performing at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, MA on October 11th and we hope his concert is a hit!
If you would like to get involved with NTI, feel free to connect with us on our website at www.nticentral.org/learnmore
BIO: Mary E. Hart is the Digital Communications Specialist for NTI. She is also a freelance writer, editor and content strategist, specializing in writing copy that will help you reach the right people at the right time. Previously, she worked in Demand Generation marketing for UBM Tech and Ziff Davis Enterprise. In her spare time, Mary is working on the next great ghost novel.