Emily was born with two conditions: congenital femoral deficiency, a rare birth defect that causes a short thigh bone which results in a difference in leg length and hip and knee problems, and fibular hemimelia, where all or part of the shin bone is missing. Her doctors in Buffalo wanted to amputate her shorter leg, but her parents learned it could be saved at the International Center for Limb Lengthening (ICLL). Emily went through four rounds of lengthenings and had many reconstructive surgeries during her childhood.
After finishing her master’s degree to become a physician assistant (PA), Emily spent part of a summer shadowing our doctors and PAs for one of her clinical rotations. While shadowing, she had the opportunity to meet families with children who have health issues like her own and to share her perspective of having gone through treatment as a child. “I told them I would do it again if I had to. There’s no doubt I made the right decision. It was really meaningful to me to come full circle after having gone through all the surgeries, and now to get to help new families. They said it helped them to see that I went through this and now was back—that I could live a normal life… I got to play sports—swimming, softball, and snowboarding. I got to go away to school for college and now am graduating from PA school.”
“Growing up with all of the surgeries, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field. After one of my surgeries, Chris Fisher, (an ICLL PA), said, ‘I did a pretty good job with your sutures.’ I was like, ‘Wow! PAs can do that?’ Then and there, I wanted to go to PA school. I’d like to thank everyone here (the ICLL) who has helped me. I want to take the kindness and empathy to where I go next. I’ll be working in orthopedics in Buffalo, and would love to come back and work here if a spot opens up.”
When asked about the quality of her treatment at the ICLL, she replied, “We couldn’t have asked for anything better. We only have wonderful things to say about everything [at the ICLL]—especially now that I’m seeing it from a medical professional’s perspective.”