Couple Gives Generously After Life-Changing Surgery at Johns Hopkins

“When you live with that kind of pain for that many years, you want to cry because it’s hard. That pain is gone now,” says Susan Sutliff, above.

Published in Framework - Framework Spring 2021

Susan and Greg Sutliff want to ensure that others can receive the same life-changing care that Susan received. That’s why, in 2020, the couple gave a generous gift to the Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and are now making plans to include Johns Hopkins Medicine in their estate. “The surgery at Johns Hopkins was the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Susan.

When Susan was in her 30s, she started having pain in her lower back from herniated and ruptured discs. Her father and brother had similar problems, and her father was unable to walk for 4½ years. But Susan’s issues didn’t progress to that point, thanks to a successful surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in February 2020.

Before that procedure, she had undergone five surgeries on her spine, and the two most recent were unsuccessful. “I know the surgeons did the best they could, but I had a lot of complications,” says the 76-year-old Pennsylvania resident. “They couldn’t solve my problem.”

Susan had been in terrible pain for years. After the unsuccessful operations, Julianna Rich, Susan’s internist in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, referred her to Khaled Kebaish, chief of the Johns Hopkins Division of Orthopaedic Spine Surgery. At the time, Susan says she was using a walker and probably would have needed a wheelchair within three to six months.

When she met Kebaish in late 2019, he immediately provided comfort. “He said he could help me, and his calm demeanor made me feel like I didn’t have to worry,” Susan says. “That’s exactly what you need in a doctor.”

In February 2020, Kebaish performed surgery to realign Susan’s spine and to take the pressure off her spinal cord and nerves. When she left the hospital, she was able to walk and stand up straight. She then had physical therapy to regain her strength and get used to her new back. Today, Susan says she has no severe back pain. “It’s a miracle. When you live with that kind of pain for that many years, you want to cry because it’s hard. That pain is gone now.”

Now, Susan’s son is experiencing back pain and considering surgery. “Of course, he’ll go to Johns Hopkins.”

At her pre- and postoperative appointments, as well as during her stay at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Susan says everyone was exceptional — from the receptionists to the nurses. “No matter how many people they needed to care for, they went the extra mile. I’ve been in a lot of hospitals, and I’ve never been treated the way I was at Johns Hopkins.”

During a checkup in 2020, Susan and Greg surprised Kebaish with a generous donation to the Johns Hopkins Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “It’s just wonderful what Dr. Kebaish and his team did for me and my family,” says Susan. “I want the hospital to be able to help other people just like they helped me.”

The Sutliffs’ gift supports research by Kebaish and his team to introduce innovative procedures and techniques to improve outcomes and decrease complications for patients with spinal deformities.

“We have a lot of knowledge and expertise in spinal surgery for patients with very complex problems,” says Kebaish. “We want to correct and rectify these problems and get our patients back to enjoying their lives.”

To make a tax-deductible gift or to learn about the benefits of an estate intention or a charitable gift annuity that provides disbursements to you, please email [email protected] or call 410-955-6936.

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