Emery, of Plano, and Zariyah, of Dallas

Aug 31, 2022 / Limb Lengthening

The Ties That Bind

Article previously published in Rite Up, 2022 – Issue 2.

Emery, of Plano, and Zariyah, of Dallas, have a lot in common. They are the same age, in the same grade, and their birthdays are just one week apart. They enjoy the same activities and even connect online to play their favorite game — Roblox! But the bond they share runs deep. It is rooted at Scottish Rite for Children, where they met and discovered that they have overcome the same challenges, are stronger for them, and most of all, are not alone.

Emery and Zariyah were born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, which causes one leg to be shorter than the other. Pediatric orthopedic surgeon Lane Wimberly, M.D., surgically inserted an intramedullary device into the girls’ femurs, or thighbones. The device is a magnetic-driven rod that is used with an external receiver to lengthen the leg. After Emery’s surgery, Wimberly asked Emery’s mother, Valerie, if he could introduce them to Zariyah, who had undergone the same surgery the week before.

“When he asked, I said, ‘What a blessing!’ like three times in a row,” says Valerie. “It was so cool, because a lot of the time, Emery feels alone, different or ostracized.”

Valerie and Emery met with Zariyah and Erica, Zariyah’s mother, to ask questions and share their experiences. The girls also scheduled physical therapy appointments at the same time, so they could do their exercises next to each other. “It made Zariyah feel better to find someone who understands what she’s going through,” says Erica, “that she’s not the only one.”

After three months of limb lengthening and physical therapy, Emery and Zariyah have gained multiple inches in their shorter legs, successfully meeting their goals in their respective treatment plans.

“Dr. Wimberly and the whole team have been amazing!” says Valerie. “A lot of people are involved in Emery’s care, and every time we’re at Scottish Rite, every single one of them comes to see her. Emery has had less fear, because she’s had such great care.”

Emery and Zariyah benefit from Scottish Rite’s multidisciplinary medical team that includes surgeons, nurses, psychologists, physical therapists and many other specialists who collaborate with each other to offer a customized continuum of care for each patient. “Scottish Rite has provided Zariyah with everything she needs,” says Erica. “I don’t know how we would be able to afford it otherwise. We are very blessed!”

The last time Emery and Zariyah saw each other, they talked about going swimming. “It’s wonderful that Scottish Rite connected the girls,” says Valerie. “When people do things for others and they’re life-changing, thank you is not enough. There’s never enough thank yous.”

Read the enitre issue.

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