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'I Can Walk Without a Crutch'

When Mara was 1 year old, she was diagnosed with benign non-ossified fibroma in her right fibula. Non-ossifying fibroma is a non-cancerous tumor that consists mainly of fibrous tissue. This condition was expected to resolve by the time she was 20.

As Mara grew, she fractured her leg multiple times and was almost always  in pain. Her parents and doctors speculated that something far more aggressive than the original diagnosis was happening.

Mara was referred to the Spokane Shriners Hospital for diagnostic tests and orthopaedic care. It was determined that Mara was living with fibrous dysplasia; an uncommon bone disorder in which scar-like tissue develops in place of normal bone. When this irregular tissue forms, it can weaken, deform or fracture bones.

Ted Sousa, M.D., one of the Spokane Shriners Hospital’s fellowship-trained pediatric orthopaedic surgeons, presented treatment options for Mara. Ultimately, Mara and her parents decided that surgery to place a rod into her fibula across the bone to give it stability was the best option. 

“Dr. Sousa is very talented and humble; he is skilled and thorough,” said Mara’s mother, Kaitlin. “I really appreciate how he consulted with colleagues to reach a comprehensive understanding of our daughter’s diagnosis, discuss with us different treatment options and share his hopes for the future.”

We asked Mara what she thought of working with Dr. Sousa. “He performed two amazing surgeries and he’s overall just a funny, energetic guy,” explained Mara. “He never made me feel like I had to choose one treatment over the other, never made it feel like there was only one right way. He was going to support whichever direction I chose to go with.”

Mara and her family were enthralled with other aspects of the hospital as well.

“We are really impressed with all the staff at the Shriners Hospital, specifically our care manager, Angie,” said Kaitlin. “She was accessible and available for questions, education and guidance along the way. I wish every medical location had a family liaison like Angie.”

Mara is now back in action, playing with her friends and just being a kid.

“I can walk in my neighborhood again,” said Mara. “I can walk without a crutch. I can climb on rocks and trees again and ride my bike! I can catch up with my friend and be a kid without worrying that my leg might break.”

Mara grew up asking herself how much pain an activity would cause. Now, as she begins to test her limits, she understands that she has to be careful but that it won’t end in a full day of pain. Mara can now make it a whole day without having to elevate her leg!

“We feel like we are onto a new path with new potentials,” said Kaitlin.

Because of the specialty care at the Spokane Shriners Hospital, transformations like Mara’s are possible. The Spokane Shriners Hospital staff is here to provide simple to complex pediatric orthopaedic care. If you know of a child who could benefit from the services of the Spokane Shriners Hospital, call us today!

Mara

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