Senior Jayden Smits Gets Chest Bar Removed


Emma Zankoul, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“Having a metal bar in my chest shaped me into a better person by making me really good at time management and communication skills,” said Jayden Smits, a senior at NDA.

He has had a bar in his chest since his freshman year after finding out he had Pectus Excavatum, a condition that happens naturally where a person’s breastbone is sunken into their chest.

“It’s pretty common, but mine was severe,” said Smits. “We thought it was fine until I came out of the shower one day, and my mom said it was worse than ever. She got very worried that my lungs would sink into my chest, and that’s when we had to act.”

He then went to physical therapy in Madison to fix his breathing and posture in order to get ready for surgery a few months later on December 6, 2019 at the UW Children’s Hospital.

“During the operation, they had to cut the left and right of my chest, put the bar in, and then twist it to fit right in my body,” he said. They deflated his lungs and froze his nerves too.

Smits said that it really hurt because he could not breathe or get out of bed. It was also “very overwhelming because I had to stay overnight and get a lot of care.”

When he left, he “couldn’t feel that part of the body at all,” he said. But despite what it sounds like, Smits was not worried since he could still do sports and live normally after.

He also said the pain left, but he was just “uncomfortable at times because it felt like I had a bowl in my chest.” He also stated that he could feel the bar moving, “especially when I was going up and down the stairs,” because it was puffy.

The bar was taken out this year on November 23 at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay. 

“I got a rash and experienced shortness of breath, but the outcome was great and it was not painful,” he said.

“Overall this experience changed me as a person,” he said. Not only does he feel more unique after all the events that happened, but Smits said that he is now “more responsible since I missed many days of school and had to get all my work done.”

But all of these obstacles he had to go through did not stop him from excelling academically. Smits recently got accepted into the University of Stevens Point and is planning on majoring in business management.