Nine-year-old Cheesta, who suffered from progressive congenital scoliosis, was first seen in Iran by Iranian-American spine surgeon Dr. Amir Mehbod. He determined that she could not be operated on there, and contacted FCI to request our assistance. When she arrived in the United States, we immediately fell in love with this brave and precious girl. Despite her deformed and contorted body – her scoliosis was so advanced she found it difficult to breathe – her joyful spirit shone through her beautiful smile.

Dr. Mehbod and world-renowned spine surgeon John Lonstein, together with a team of 15+ healthcare professionals, performed four surgeries on Cheesta, removing two ribs and three discs and straightening her spine. In all, she spent 24+ hours in surgery.

As part of the procedure, the doctors fitted Cheesta with a halo, to which weights were attached to straighten her spine.  Through all of this, she was courageous…with her hands tied to the bed, she still tried to clap when she got good news, she would shed silent tears during setbacks, and would even stick out her tongue on cue when told to make fun of her visitors.

After 41 days in Pediatric Intensive Care, Cheesta was eventually discharged and has now returned home to Iran. She has an excellent prognosis, thanks to all those in the chain of hope that stretched from Iran, through Dubai to the United States and back home again.


Videos of Cheesta


Cheesta Farewell from FCI on Vimeo.


Remembering Cheesta from FCI on Vimeo.


Cheesta Walking from FCI on Vimeo.


Cheesta’s Story on Channel 5 Eyewitness News from FCI on Vimeo.