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Surgeon Treats Children Whose Limbs Are Uneven

Soon after eight-year-old Samuel Morris was born with a condition called fibular hemimelia, his family was encouraged to consider amputation of his right leg, which was shorter than his left and not expected to grow proportionally. “We didn’t think that was a good option if something else could be done for Samuel,” says his mother Donna Morris.

Although many families choose that difficult option, Samuel’s parents ignored the advice and continued searching for doctors who understood his condition better. Fibular hemimelia is rare enough that their early search was unfruitful. “When you tell a doctor about the condition and they’ve never even heard of it, you don’t exactly feel comfortable putting your child in their hands,” Morris says. For a time, they saw experts in Chicago who were familiar with Samuel’s problems, but high turnover in doctors there and the inconvenience and expense of traveling eventually nixed that option.

The Morris’ hopes for Samuel were finally realized after they moved from Ohio to Indiana and met George Gantsoudes, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Riley at IU Health. In him, they found a specialist with expertise in treating children with limbs of varying length. Samuel’s condition was suddenly in front of people who look at things differently. “At Riley at IU Health, rare things are somewhat common,” Gantsoudes says.

On one of their first visits to Riley at IU Health, a familiar face stopped by to say hello to the Morris family—Shyam Kishan, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who had been one of Samuel’s doctors when the family was living in Ohio. “He was our favorite doctor,” Morris says. As one of Gantsoudes’ colleagues, Kishan’s presence was a “feel good” factor for the family. Combined with the family’s confidence in Gantsoudes, it helped tipped the scales toward Riley at IU Health. “We’re really happy that we chose Riley at IU Health and Dr. Gantsoudes,” Morris says. “It’s really rare to find a doctor who knows about Samuel’s condition.”

In our next post, learn how Samuel is doing after a limb-lengthening procedure performed by George Gantsoudes, MD, in April.

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