Anonymous donor offers $600,000 match to teen’s MUSC fundraiser

Sydney Severance on a mission to bring an upright MRI to University Hospital

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Jan. 18, 2022) – A generous donor will match up to $600,000 in donations to Operation Upright, a fundraiser started by a Daniel Island teen to bring an upright MRI machine to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC Health) in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 2020, Sydney Severance went from being an active teenager and competitive tennis player to wheelchair bound. After months of debilitating pain and no answers, Sydney and her family found hope at MUSC Health in Charleston. Sunil Patel, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, suspected that Sydney had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome with craniocervical instability (EDS/CCI). Patel explained that the condition is like trying to keep your skull attached to your spine with rubber bands.

Patel recommended Sydney get an upright MRI because traditional MRI studies don’t detect craniocervical instability. There isn’t an upright MRI available in the Charleston area, so the Severance family had to take on the added stress and cost of traveling, which can be extremely painful and beyond reach for many patients.

It often takes years, even decades, before patients receive a diagnosis of EDS/CCI. That’s why it’s so important to Sydney, who’s now in recovery, to bring this advanced diagnostic tool to MUSC in Charleston. “No one should have to settle for just barely surviving,” Sydney said. “Everyone should get a chance to live their life to the fullest.”

Her fundraiser, Operation Upright, has a goal of raising $1.2 million, the estimated cost to buy an upright MRI machine.

“A standup or upright MRI can scan patients in any position, allowing it to detect problems that can’t be seen when a patient is lying down. It’s also significantly more comfortable for patients who may be claustrophobic or overweight,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “Making this advanced technology accessible to our patients is a top priority. We’re grateful to Sydney and the Severance family for helping to make that possible.” 

A generous donor has committed to donating $600,000 if Sydney can raise the other half. So far, family and friends have given $187,480 through her fundraising page.  To support Sydney and Operation Upright, visit


About MUSC 

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2021, continuing to lead the state in obtaining federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality and safe patient care while training generations of compassionate, competent health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Patient care is provided at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and five additional hospital locations in development, more than 300 telehealth sites and nearly 750 care locations situated in the Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.4 billion. The nearly 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers, scientists, students and care team members who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.