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news News Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Tuesday, May 8, 2018 1:40 PM - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 1:40 PM

Andie Sue and Kaysie Li Roth

Shriners Hospitals for Children helps put champion equestrians in the saddle

Andie Sue and Kaysie Li Roth

Andie Sue and Kaysie Li appear the picture of grace and agility when performing with their horses in equestrian competitions, but that wasn't always the case.

The sisters were born with crippling birth defects in faraway China; each with a severely deformed leg. Their adoptive parents, Barbie and Drew of Alamo, California, believed there was a much better life in store for them in America. Their visits to the Northern California Shriners Hospital began when their adopted daughter Andie Sue, now 13, was a toddler. They heeded the advice of a pediatrician who suggested, “Just call Shriners!”

That phone call led Andie Sue’s parents to orthopaedic surgeon Joel Lerman, M.D. Dr. Lerman also began seeing Andie Sue’s sister, Kaysie Li, who was adopted just shy of her 6th birthday.

Dr. Lerman knew there was great hope that both girls could regain the physical skills needed for a fulfilling life, through modern prosthetics. The sisters followed a similar path of care. Dr. Lerman performed below-the-knee amputations on each girls’ malformed leg, and specialists in the hospital’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) department, designed the prosthetic limbs that would help them walk and participate in the activities that interested them the most.

This care team collaboration has enabled the girls to enjoy a love of horses, which they share with their mother. The sisters not only ride their horses and care for the animals daily, they compete in U.S. Pony Club and California Horseman Association events where they have achieved champion status. 

“The experience at Shriners has been wonderful. Shriners is set up for kids, and it is obvious that the people who work there truly love the children,” says Barbie.

"When I came here, I had never walked," Kaysie Li says. "Shriners and Dr. Lerman got my stump ready for a prosthetic, made a leg that fit perfectly, and continue to give me everything I need to do all my activities."

Over the years, both Kaysie Sue and Andie Li have had many surgeries and they have worked with the prosthetic specialists every step of the way.   

“We have found that kids born with leg differences usually adapt very quickly to their prosthetics. We have many patients like Andie Sue and Kaysie Li who are involved in competitive sports and leading active lives,” said Dr. Lerman. “We care for these kids throughout their childhood, providing surgical care, prosthetic services, and physical therapy and rehabilitation to meet the individual needs of each patient.”

The medical care provided to her daughters at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento continues to delight Barbie. “My girls are active, and the team has been able to keep up with their needs while being attentive to the aesthetics of their prosthetics. We are ever so grateful for the time and energy given to the girls at each appointment.

"Watching Andie Sue's dedication to her sport and seeing her excel in equestrian jumping events is very rewarding," says Barbie. "Seeing Kaysie Li take control of a 900-pound horse after spending her first five years in an orphanage, unable to walk with no strength in her body, is just breathtaking," she adds.

POPS technician with one of the sisters  Equestrians Andie Sue And Kaysie Li