Rodney Wente has spent the last several decades looking down, unable to look up without using his hand to raise his head. Wente had spinal surgery in 1994 to remove spurs. And although it was successful, his rheumatoid arthritis presented another problem.

"'They have arthritis in multiple joints,' says Dr. Anat Kumar, who met Wente years later. 'Their muscles are weak, the tissues are weak, then it's almost like the ice cream falls off the cone and the head falls off.'

Wente begged Dr. Kumar, a spine surgeon at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center, to perform the delicate surgery so many other doctors had refused."

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