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Long Island Teen In World Spotlight After Inventing Award-Winning Spinal Treatment

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Children suffering from scoliosis -- curvature of the spine -- may one day have a new treatment, thanks to the invention of a Long Island high school student.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, Harry Paul, 17, knows first-hand what it's like growing up in need of constant spinal operations, and he's on a mission to change that.

"I'm happy when I'm helping people, and I'm better at helping people by being happy," said Paul, a senior at Paul D. Schreiber High School.

Paul, who stands 4 feet, 10 inches tall, has endured more than a dozen surgeries to treat severe curvature of the spine, a disability he was born with.

"I had to go to this hospital for another surgery every three to six months," he explained.

Scoliosis, however, did not stop Paul from doing what many other kids also do -- launching a school science research project. But for him, it was personal.

Paul designed a spinal implant that expands, allowing the spine to grow straight, buying more time for a child between operations.

"I'm hoping that the treatment will be easier and better for the children, so they won't have to go through the same orderal that I went through," he said.

Marla Ezratty, a science teacher at Paul D. Schreiber High School, said the implants should be usable for children within three years.

"It's just incredible because what happens now is that you don't have to have all of these surgeries," Ezratty said.

The school science project has earned Paul recognition on the world stage. He received top honors at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He's now partnering with an engineering company to get the implant tested and developed.

Altogether, Paul has won seven major science awards and more than $20,000 in prize money.

"My mission in life was to be as happy, healthy and productive as I could, and to do something for others whenever possible," Paul said.

Paul will attend Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, in the fall to study biomedical engineering and public health.

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