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Elizabeth Stands on Her Own Two Feet

Once carried into the hospital, she proudly walks herself into Shriners Children's St. Louis.

When Elizabeth smiles, she shows you so much about herself. You can see her journey – one of pain and limitations that has recently transitioned into a journey of endless possibilities. To say it simply, Elizabeth’s smile shines with pure joy.

Elizabeth, an 11-year-old from rural Kansas, was born at 27 weeks. She required immediate NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) care that lasted months. As she gained weight, grew and developed, it was obvious to her care team that Elizabeth was living with cerebral palsy.

As time passed, she missed typical developmental milestones. Elizabeth wasn’t crawling. She wasn’t walking. Most notably, she lacked a necessary confidence in herself.

Providers in Kansas were working to alleviate pain but weren’t improving her chances of independent mobility. Aunt Pat, who serves as Elizabeth’s caretaker and guardian, started seeking new answers and was directed to Shriners Children’s St. Louis in the spring of 2017.

“It took one visit for him to know exactly what was wrong,” Pat remembered.

On May 10, 2017, Elizabeth’s fifth birthday, she underwent her first surgery with Pooya Hosseinzadeh, M.D. He operated on both hips, working to give her stability and balance.

Elizabeth worked hard at physical therapy and occupational therapy to gain strength and independence.

Then, in 2022, Elizabeth underwent a very involved operation that included 10 surgical procedures over an 8-hour timespan. Those procedures addressed her hip rotation, knee tightness and foot deformity.

"Elizabeth has cerebral palsy and was still not walking when I first met her around age 4. Through dedication and hard work of her and her family, and surgeries to address her orthopedic issues, she is now walking with a walker," said Hosseinzadeh.

The rehabilitation was extensive but Elizabeth is determined. Today, she uses a walker to get around – on her own two feet. Elizabeth loves her new legs.

“Before they went in a lot and now they’re straight and beautiful, and they’re flat,” she said with a smile.

Her most proud milestone yet: shoe shopping for her school’s spring concert. For the first time in her life, her feet were straight enough to wear dress shoes.

We came to Shriners carrying her. Now this girl is walking with assistance.

Aunt Pat, Kansas

Elizabeth’s next goal: to walk with arm crutches. Then, she wants to run.

What makes her believe she can? Pat says her willpower and confidence grows every day, thanks, in part, to her team at Shriners Children’s St. Louis.

“Elizabeth’s self-esteem? Now, she’s confident. She doesn’t stutter anymore. She looks at people in their eyes and she speaks to them. And it’s because of Shriners. That medical team gave her back what she was lacking,” said Pat.

"Sometimes, I get photos of her standing in therapy and it makes me feel so happy how far she has come. I love to see her walking better and better each day," Hosseinzadeh reflected.

Elizabeth will be showing off her straight legs and her new confidence as honorary captain of the Kansas Shrine Bowl on July 15.

She’s already been practicing her cheer: “Go Team East! Go Team West!”

This is just one way Pat, Elizabeth and their family hope to give back to Shriners Children’s.

“From the depths in my heart, I want to thank Shriners. Without Shriners, Elizabeth wouldn’t be where she’s at today,” said Pat.

A Life of Possibilities

Elizabeth finds success through positivity.

elizabeth with dr. hosseinzadeh

Elizabeth and Dr. Hosseinzadeh smile during a checkup in clinic.

dr hosseinzadeh examines elizabeth

Dr. Hosseinzadeh analyzes Elizabeth's gait.

elizabeth after surgery

Elizabeth recovers after major surgery.

elizabeth hugging a shriner

Elizabeth receives a big hug from one of her favorite Shriners, Carl Hall.

elizabeth legs and feet

The medical team checks the alignment of Elizabeth's legs and feet.

Next Steps

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