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Perry Cate Defies the Odds with Help from Shriners Children’s Lexington

Perry Catherine Foster was 2 days old when Vish Talwalkar, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Shriners Children’s Lexington, met her for the first time.

Born with a host of physical deformities including severe scoliosis, an unformed left hip, left leg-length discrepancy, missing and fused vertebra, and no rib cage on her left side, Perry Cate had already defied the odds by surviving birth itself.

Parry Cate has VATER syndrome, a term used when a child has birth defects in three or more body parts.

Dr. Talwalkar had the unenviable task of telling her parents, Scott and Carlola, that their daughter would probably never sit, walk or stand. After two weeks, Perry Cate left the hospital with a three-week life expectancy.

Perry Cate went home and did what Perry Cate does best – she lived.

We’ve been blessed by Shriners. They gave our child her life.
Carlola, Kentucky

“When she hit 6 months, we were like, ‘Now what?’” Carlola said. “We came home from the hospital and prepared ourselves for the idea that she would die. Soon we realized we needed to prepare for the idea that she would live, even with the issues she was facing.”

When she was 1, Perry Cate was able to come to the Shriners Children's Lexington as Dr. Talwalkar’s patient. When she was 3, Perry Cate visited the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital so doctors could ascertain if she would be a good candidate for a titanium rib. She was, and Dr. Talwalkar performed the surgery in the summer of 2008.

“Perry Cate is very unique,” Dr. Talwalkar said. “We can help her in every possible way, but Perry Cate is writing her own story.”

Today, Perry Cate is an active 21-year-old studying forensic science in college. She loves to draw, act, sing and write fan fiction.

“We’ve been blessed by Shriners [Children's],” Carlola said. “They gave our child her life.”

“Shriners didn’t just give me a new beginning,” Perry Cate added. “It gave me a chance to be.”

Perry Cate is excited to be an early member of the Patient Alumni Network. The Patient Alumni Network was formed in 2022 as part of Shriners Children's 100th Anniversary Celebration. The goal of this new network is to connect former patients with each other and provide opportunities for them to share their stories and accomplishments with other patients, Shriners, donors and the public.

Perry Cate outside

Perry Cate has made a lasting impression on the staff at Shriners Children's Lexington, including Dr. Talwalkar, who said Perry Cate wrote her own story.

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