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Shriners Children's Helps Jennessa's Real-life Cinderella Prom

Jennessa celebrates in sneakers thanks to plastic surgery.

For most teenagers, being voted prom queen might be the memory they carry forward from senior prom.

But Jennessa, 17, from eastern Iowa, will also always remember her shoes thanks to the care she received at Shriners Children’s Chicago. The teen was able to wear the cute sneakers she wanted after a childhood orthopedic condition threatened her footwear goals.

Pediatric orthopedic surgeons treated Jennessa for macrodactyly as a child, a condition where the toes and foot develop differently. It can make a foot and/or the toes much bigger than the others. She had two surgeries as a child to manage the condition. In 2023, she returned to Shriners Children's with a new goal. As she grew her foot had gotten larger, but she really wanted to fit into sneakers for senior prom. “I’ve seen this before ... as the child grows the tissue sometimes swells,” said Clark Schierle, M.D., Ph.D., a plastic surgeon at Shriners Children’s who began treating Jennessa in 2023.

Her No. 1 goal was to be able to fit into cute shoes for prom.
Clark Schierle, M.D., Ph.D., plastic surgeon

Six months before the dance Dr. Schierle used liposuction to remove extra tissue the foot had developed, and plastic surgery techniques to tighten the skin. Unfortunately, the Cinderella moment was put at risk when Jenessa developed a rare infection that damaged the skin. Surgeons were determined to get her to the dance. Drs. Schierle, Purnell, and Alkureishi teamed up over several procedures which ended with a successful skin graft. But would she heal in time?

“With (prom) about a month away after this surgery I advised a month of no walking to let this foot fully heal,” said Dr. Schierle.

Joy, Jenessa's mom, and Dr. Schierle communicated during the healing process and things were back on track. In late April Jennessa had her real-life Cinderella moment. She was able to wear cute white sneakers to prom and dance, and was even crowned Prom Queen. “I remember receiving a text that night in April and seeing pictures from prom, and I was sobbing in my kitchen tears of joy … thinking this is why Shriners Children’s is amazing!” said Dr. Schierle.

After the whirlwind of prom, the next day Jennessa also met the governor and lieutenant governor of Iowa, as she is a Governor’s Scholar for her school district this year. Mom said Jennessa took it all in stride as she walked across the stage in her cute shoes. She added that the teen now enjoys playing volleyball and basketball, and plans to attend the University of Iowa this fall.

Jennessa sitting down, smiling

Jennessa poses during her senior photo shoot. She will be attending the University of Iowa this fall.

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