Don't just take it from us. Hear from former Nuss patients about their experience undergoing pectus surgery at CHKD.


First Female Nuss Patient Reaches Out to Personally Thank Dr. Donald Nuss, says "I've had zero issues"

Pectus Patient Allison DePrioAllison DePrio was just a few years old when her parents noticed her chest had a dip in it that seemed deeper than other kids’ sternums.

Allison, now 38, remembers she could put toys in the little puddle of water that collected in her chest when she was floating in a bathtub or swimming pool.

A pediatrician said she had a condition called pectus excavatum, a congenital wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, making the chest look as though it is sunken.

At 4 years of age, Allison was referred to CHKD surgeon Donald Nuss, who would eventually become known world-wide for correcting the deformity.

That was in 1988, just two years after Dr. Nuss had started using a procedure in which he inserted a curved metal bar under the ribs and sternum to reshape the chest wall. The bar, which was inserted through two small incisions on either side of the chest, would stay in place about two years, and then be surgically removed in the same way.

At the time, it was still experimental. But Allison’s parents didn’t like the sound of the alternative, which was a much more invasive reconstruction of the chest wall that kids spent weeks recovering from, and that didn’t always have good results.

So they agreed, and Allison became part of an early cohort of patients that would lead to the “Nuss Procedure” becoming the gold standard across the globe for correcting the condition.

She remembers the bright lights of the CHKD operating room. The watermelon flavor of the anesthesia. The kind, calm, soft voice of Dr. Nuss, whom she instantly liked as a child.

The bar was removed two years later, when Allison was 6 years old. She never had a problem with the condition again, and lives an active life hiking, horseback riding, and fishing. Allison, now a math technology developer in Afton, is thankful her family lived in Virginia Beach, and that Dr. Nuss was nearby to save the day.

 “I’ve had zero issues, and I attribute that to him. I was extremely fortunate to have Dr. Nuss and his brilliance right in my back yard.” 

Nuss Procedure "100 Percent Worth It," Pearson Ehrich, 17

Pectus Patient Pearson EhrichPearson Ehrich loves playing soccer, but when he was in 7th grade, he found himself struggling to breathe during practices and games.

Medical tests showed the Park City, Utah, teen had pectus excavatum, a condition in which his breastbone was sunken into his chest, which was crowding his heart and lungs. 

His parents set about researching the best hospitals for corrective surgery, and learned about the internationally known Nuss Center at CHKD. This is where the “Nuss Procedure,” a minimally invasive approach to correcting pectus excavatum was developed, in which surgeons insert a curved metal bar under the ribs and sternum to reshape the chest wall.

Pearson traveled across the country to CHKD for the surgery in 2017, and returned in early 2020 to have the metal bar removed. He’s now 17, and pleased with the results.

“The surgery was 100% worth it,” Ehrich said. “It took some sacrifice, but without a doubt, it turned out better than my other options. Not only did I feel healthier, it gave my lungs and heart significantly more room to operate. I was able to breathe so much easier, and the procedure instantly changed my physical abilities. I felt a massive difference in my endurance while playing soccer. I was able to run for much longer periods of time.”

Learn more about his experience and what he wants you to know about the procedure in this blog - Nuss Procedure: Tips from the Patient Perspective.