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news News Thursday, May 23, 2019 Thursday, May 23, 2019 1:48 PM - Thursday, May 23, 2019 1:48 PM

Leah travels from Trinidad to receive specialized orthopaedic care

Patient has been undergoing limb-lengthening surgeries since she was 1

Leah travels from Trinidad to receive specialized orthopaedic care

Leah was born in Trinidad with bowed legs, hip dysplasia and a left leg that was 15 centimeters shorter than her right. Trinidad does not have a health care facility that specializes in pediatric orthopaedics. Leah’s parents met with many doctors in Trinidad, and none were willing to take on her case.

Two months after Leah was born, her parents had a special opportunity to meet with a missionary who was visiting Trinidad from Kentucky. The missionary ended up helping Leah’s parents make an appointment at Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington.

Leah was a little more than 1 when she arrived at the Lexington Shriners Medical Center for her first appointment with Janet Walker, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. Over the last 13 years, Leah and her family have traveled back and forth from Trinidad to Kentucky to receive orthopaedic care.

“We love it here!” said Leshya, Leah’s mom. “Everyone has done so much to help Leah, and we are very grateful. The travel is long, but worth it!”

To date Dr. Walker has performed six surgeries on Leah to help correct her leg limb difference, and at least three more surgeries are still needed. Leah is currently awaiting notice on when the next surgery to stabilize the ligaments in her knee will be scheduled. This surgery is vital in order for additional surgeries to continue lengthening her left leg.

“The recovery process is hard, but I am committed to lengthening my left leg as much as possible,” said Leah.

Leah wears a lift in her left shoe and uses a cane to walk. She has never felt hindered in her abilities.

Leah currently plays on her school’s cricket team. Cricket is a popular sport in Trinidad and is similar to baseball. She also enjoys playing the guitar and singing, and hopes to pursue a music degree when she attends university.

Leah says that in Trinidad young children often ask her why one leg is shorter than the other. She said she always explains that she was born that way and appreciates being asked, instead of people staring at her. “Yes, I feel different, but that has never stopped me from doing anything I want,” said Leah.

Leah and her family are ready to return to Kentucky as soon as they know when her knee surgery is scheduled. From there she will return two to three more times to have her leg lengthened, and will have many appointments in between. Leah is prepared and willing to face the tough recovery road ahead of her in order to experience the end result of two legs that are the same length.