Andie Sue and Kaysie Li Roth appear the picture of grace and agility when performing with their horses in equestrian competitions. But that wasn’t always the case.
The sisters were born with crippling birth defects in faraway China, each with a severely deformed leg. Their adoptive parents, Barbie and Drew Roth of Alamo, Calif., believed there was a much better life in store for them in America. They found a powerful ally in Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California.
The Roth family’s visits to Shriners Hospital in Sacramento began when Andie Sue, 13, was just a toddler. Adopted and brought to America when she was 15-months old, Andie Sue’s pediatrician had advice for her new mother, “Just call Shriners.”
That phone call led them to orthopaedic surgeon Joel Lerman, M.D., and a highly successful collaboration that has enabled the girls to enjoy a love of horses shared by their mother. The Roth sisters not only ride their horses and care for the animals daily, they compete in U.S. Pony Club and California Horseman Association events where they have achieved champion status.
“The experience at Shriners has been wonderful. Shriners is set up for kids, and it is obvious that the people who work there truly love the children,” says Barbie.
Dr. Lerman first met Andie Sue when she was a toddler, and Kaysie Li became his patient after she was adopted just shy of her sixth birthday. Dr. Lerman immediately knew there was great hope that both girls could regain the physical skills needed for a fulfilled life through modern prosthetics. Both sisters followed a similar path of care. Dr. Lerman performed below-the-knee amputations on each girl’s malformed leg, and specialists in the hospital’s POPS (Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetics Services) designed the legs they need to walk and ride.
“When I came here, I had never walked,” Kaysie Li says. “Shriners and Dr. Lerman got my stump ready for a prosthetic, made a leg that fit perfectly, and continue to give me everything I need to do all my activities.”
“We have found that kids born with leg differences usually adapt very quickly to their prosthetics. We have many patients like Andie Sue and Kaysie Li who are involved in competitive sports and leading active lives,” said Dr. Lerman. “We care for these kids throughout their childhood, providing surgical care, prosthetic services and physical therapy and rehabilitation to meet the individual needs of each patient.”
Over the years, both Kaysie Sue and Andie Li have had many surgeries. And they have worked with the prosthetic specialists every step of the way.
The medical care made available to her daughters at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento continues to delight their mom.
“My girls are active, and the team has been able to keep up with their needs while being attentive to the aesthetics of their prosthetics. We are ever so grateful for the time and energy given to the girls at each appointment.
“Watching Andie Sue’s dedication to her sport and seeing her excel in equestrian jumping events is very rewarding,” says Barbie. “Seeing Kaysie Li take control of a 900-pound horse after spending her first five years in an ophanage, unable to walk with no strength in her body, is just breathtaking,” she adds.