Lily Ready to Treat Patients with Same Type of Care She Received
Former National Patient Ambassador Graduates from Shriners Hospitals Care
Lily has been coming to Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington nearly all her life. As a baby, she visited for the first time, and this week, at 21, she had her last appointment.
Lily was born with fibular hemimelia. This means she did not have a fibula, which is the outer leg bone that runs from the knee to the ankle.
When she was 7 months old, she had an amputation to her right leg. Her family learned that there weren’t doctors in her hometown who knew how to treat her condition, and there definitely wasn’t a place to have prosthetic legs constructed and fitted as she grew.
“We started coming to Shriners because of the expertise,” Lily said. “There wasn’t a specialist for kids like me in my hometown.”
When she was 18 months old, Lily came to Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington. She is a patient of Vishwas Talwalkar, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the medical center.
She also received care at Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetics Services – Midwest, LLC, at the medical center, where she was fitted her with various prosthetic legs throughout her life.
At one point, she was visiting the medical center four or five times a year, and as she grew, she often needed a new prosthetic device every year. Lily also had five surgeries to straighten the angle of her knee.
In 2018, Lily became a National Patient Ambassador for Shriners Hospitals for Children and spent the following year participating in a variety of projects for the health care system. “I became a much better communicator and I’m able to express myself more meaningfully because of my experience as a Patient Ambassador,” she said.
As her time as a Shriners Hospitals patient came to a close, Lily said she felt like she was leaving behind a family. "Dr. Talwalkar, my care managers, my prosthetist, they’ve all been there for me as I’ve grown up. It’s kind of sad to be leaving. They’re like my family here, but I’m 21. I think it’s time to stop seeing my pediatrician,” she said with a laugh.
Lily may no longer be a patient, but she’ll be sticking around Shriners Hospitals for Children in a different way. She looks forward to the opportunity to get back to volunteering at the medical center, being a support for other patients and helping with more of the “behind the scenes” activities.
“Even when I was little, I knew there were kids similar to me that didn’t have the same outcomes,” Lily said. “And I don’t just mean medically. I mean they may not have the same quality of life and confidence that I’ve gained because of my time at Shriners. I want to give back to those kids.”
One way Lily plans to do that is through her career. The college senior will graduate this spring with a nursing degree and wants to provide the type of care she received at Shriners Hospitals for Children to her own patients.
“My experience at Shriners certainly inspired me to go into the medical field,” she said. “I don’t plan on going into orthopaedics, but I plan to carry forward the same patient-centered and holistic care that I got at Shriners to my patients.”
During her final appointment, Lily’s mom, Eve, was on a video call because she couldn’t attend in person.
“Shriners has been like a family to us,” she said tearfully. “I could always trust that she was getting the best care she could possibly get, and that has meant everything.”
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