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news News Monday, August 19, 2019 Monday, August 19, 2019 10:49 AM - Monday, August 19, 2019 10:49 AM

Libbie’s arthrogryposis journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston

Libbie’s arthrogryposis journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston

Libbie has been a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston since she was 3 years old. Her mother, Shelly, shared the following letter about their experience at Shriners and the impact it made it their lives:

We adopted Libbie in 2011 from China. She was 3 years old. We were told that she had a corrected clubfoot. When we arrived in China we knew immediately she had more than a corrected club foot. She was not able to walk or stand unassisted. We were not sure what her medical condition was, but we were very concerned.

We were told that she would never walk or live independently. The physician advised us to reject the adoption and demand a "healthy undefected" child. As you can imagine, we were devastated. We had waited four years for this adoption. We knew at that point our daughter's odds of being adopted by another family, should we terminate our agreement, were pretty slim. We also knew that this was our girl and no matter what her future held, we were her family. We thanked them for their report and advice, but we were willing to take our chances.

When we arrived back in the U.S., we saw several orthopedic doctors. Not one of them felt compelled to assist us. They were not familiar with her condition and mostly handled sports injuries. A client of ours suggested that we reach out to Shriners Hospital. He was a Shriner himself and assured us that we would receive the BEST care ever and would not be sorry.

When we first visited Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston, we found ourselves in the most amazing place on earth. We met with an incredible staff that knew almost immediately what our daughter's condition was and was not, and for the first time since our adoption we felt HOPE and LOVE. Libbie was diagnosed with arthrogryposis and we were given a treatment plan for her future. But more than a plan, we were given a support network. We were connected to other families in our situation, reassuring us that Libbie was going to thrive. All the fear and anxiety we were experiencing was replaced with courage and confidence. We were equipped to face the challenges and knew that we were in the right hands. Her first surgery was scheduled fairly quickly and before we knew it, our girl was thriving. The first time we saw her walk was just a day of pure joy and astonishment.  

Her treatment and care continued, and month after month we witnessed miracle after miracle. There is nothing she can't do. Libbie has the best attitude, and faces her challenges with amazing courage and grit. When she sets her mind to something, she makes it happen. While it may look different than we would do it, she gets it done. Libbie's favorite place to visit is Shriners. From her very first visit she just lights up. She was never scared or frightened by any procedure or treatment. As parents, we are blown away by the staff at our Houston Shriners Hospital. The love is tangible from the moment we are greeted by the security staff in the parking garage. It is a first-class facility. Libbie is treated as an individual. The staff speaks to her with respect and care, and she is able to communicate what works and what doesn’t. She feels very much a part of her care plan.

During a recent visit, Libbie was asked if there were any areas in her daily life that could be improved. She told them that she loves to play ping-pong but has difficultly holding the paddle for extended periods. Her orthotist, Jeremy, asked if he could engineer an orthotic [device] that might help her. He designed a custom-made brace with a ping-pong paddle for Libbie. This blew my mind. The fact that they are able to care so well for these kids and raise the funds necessary to make this level of care happen is not lost on us. 

We are Libbie’s family and Shriners has forever changed our lives, and we are forever grateful.

Libbie with mom, dad, brother at Astros gameProsthetist working with LibbieLibbie playing ping-pong