Four-year old Ruth Ann Samms was born with cleft hands and feet due to a genetic-trait abnormality. Complications were minor and several doctors advised her mother, Njeri Bernard, to wait until Ruth Ann reached a certain weight and height to correct her hands and feet.
“Although Ruth Ann’s condition was not painful and only had some minor effects, I wanted to explore all our options, especially since she would be starting kindergarten the next year,” said Njeri.
Njeri took Ruth Ann to see several doctors in the New York City area. “I went from Brooklyn to the Bronx and back to Brooklyn looking for the best doctors and the best doctor I could find at NYU [New York University] referred me to Dr. Kozin [Scott Kozin, M.D., lead orthopaedic surgeon and chief of staff at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital].” After their first visit, a care plan was created and Ruth Ann was scheduled for surgery with Dr. Kozin. Ruth Ann underwent a right hand reconstruction surgery to remove her duplicate thumb and separate the other fingers that were fused together.
Njeri was impressed with the care at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia. “Everything was so clean. The hospital, the people, the care were all superb. It surpasses all the places I’ve ever been and I have been to a lot of places,” said Njeri. “It’s different, the nurses are not just nice when the doctors are there. Someone even called to update me about the progress of my daughter’s surgery, and that meant a lot to me.”
Now, just weeks after surgery, Ruth Ann already has a better grip and can count better on her hands. Because surgery went so well, options are being explored for her left hand and her feet.