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news News Monday, February 3, 2020 Friday, January 24, 2020 2:22 PM - Friday, January 24, 2020 2:22 PM

Former patient from Mexico, now doctor, calls Shriners Hospitals for Children life-changing

Former patient from Mexico, now doctor, calls Shriners Hospitals for Children life-changing

Daniela, from Juarez, Mexico, first became a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City when she was 4 months old. Born with fibular hemimelia, missing the fibula in her right leg, her family made the decision to amputate her right leg below the knee at 9 months.

“From that moment,” said Daniela, “Shriners Hospitals for Children and all the staff members became a support system for me. They made me feel like I could become whatever I set my mind to.” Daniela describes her experience at the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital as so much more than receiving medical care. Her emotional well-being was also looked after throughout her medical journey.

Daniela has had several surgeries, benefited from physical therapy and prosthetic legs over the years, and always looked forward to reconnecting with the staff she knows and loves at her annual visits. But the opportunity that provided the most impact on her was attending the annual summer and winter Un-Limb-ited teen amputee camps. “Those trips helped me come to terms with my condition and truly accept it, and, needless to say, have lots of fun,” said Daniela.

Her mother will never forget that first year of camp. When she picked her up from the airport, she asked Daniela how her experience was. Daniela responded that for the first time in her life she was able to be herself. “Every year was memorable,” Daniela said. “But ever since the first time, I definitely enjoyed truly being myself and not having to hide any aspect from my life. I didn’t have to worry about any judgment or stares.” Up to that point, Daniela always chose the appearance of her prosthesis to be flesh color, but after her first camp she wanted to make her prosthetic legs as colorful as possible. “Because there’s no point in hiding something I can’t change!" said Daniela. "I’m very grateful to Shriners Hospital for giving me the chance to accept and love myself.”

Daniela was greatly impacted by all of her orthopaedic surgeons, who she felt always gave their best efforts. She is incredibly grateful for their knowledge and experience. “Because of them,” said Daniela, “I am able to participate in so many activities that I once believed were impossible – walking, riding a bike, running and playing sports.”

As Daniela considered her career, drawing from years of experience as a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children, she decided she wanted to pursue medicine. “I met so many people, staff and other patients. All of them motivated me in some way to pursue the medical career, which I find myself in now. I was inspired by all of the physicians in charge of my care. They showed me the impact I can have on the patients when you are passionate and devoted to this profession.”

Daniela completed medical school in 2017 and is now practicing medicine as a general practitioner physician in Sonora, Mexico. She takes the residency exam in September to start her journey towards becoming an orthopaedic surgeon.

Daniela encourages Mexican families who have children with orthopaedic needs to seek out Shriners Hospitals for Children for care. “I think families from Mexico should know that they cannot choose better physicians for their kids,” said Daniela. “Sometimes it will be a slow and tough process, but trust the doctors and take advantage of the care they offer.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City provides care for hundreds of children from Mexico every year. In fact, 20% of the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital patient population has Spanish as their first language.

If Spanish is your preferred language and your child has an orthopaedic condition, please call 801-536-3665 to speak to our resource navigator who can connect you with the right care manager at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City.

Daniela with patientDaniela with other campersDaniela's prosthetic leg