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Katherine's Story

Katherine, was born in Sept. 1991, she was 10 lbs and 2 oz, she was stuck in the birth canal for an extended period of time. When the doctor finally freed her she had no signs of life. After 23 min. of reviving her she took her first breath. She was rushed off to neonatal and thats where she stayed of the next 12-days. Our first concern was not that she was not moving her right arm, you see, we didn't know if she would have normal brain, heart, liver or kidney function. The doctor informed us that the enzynes indicating damage to all of those organs were elevated. It soon became clear that the damage to the organs was minimal and our focus turned to the arm. All the doctors told us that it in 90% of Brachial Plexus injuries the movement would return. I asked what about the 10%. The doctor indicate that very little could be done for then.

Well, me being an engineer by profession I wanted a solution to the problem just in case. So my wife and I started chasing specialists, our neonatoligist had went to medical school at the University of Utah and refered us to the head of pediatric neurology at Primary Childrens Hosptial in Salt Lake City. I called and was informed that the first apointment was 3-months away. We talked to a doctor friend of ours and she made a call, we were in 3 weeks (he saw us on his lunch hour). What a man!! He explain the whole Brachial Plexus thing to us and told us that if Katherines movement did not improve there were options. He told us about the surgery for broken nerves (if they were broken) at Texas Childrens Hospital. We went to Salt Lake City for three months, then the doctor told us he did not think that Katherine would regain much movement without the surgery (he also cautioned that the surgery may not help either). I thought "this is my daughter I have to try and give her every chance I can".

We called Texas Childrens Hospital and went the next month. The surgical team looked at her and did some testing. They determined she was a good candidate for the nurve graft surgery. The surgery was scheduled for the next day. It broke our heart for our little daughter to have to endure this but we had to try and give her the chance to use her arm.

They ended up doing 4-grafts and were told that we would not see any improvement for 9-months to 1-year. We did her physical therapy religiously and after about 9-months we started to see some improvement. Subsequent visits to Texas we were told that getting her hand to her mouth was considered a successful surgery.

Since her first surgery Katherine has had several more. Two tendon transfers in the wrist, and a muscle transfer in the upper arm (deltoid) and a muscle release under her arm.

Today, not only can Katherine eat with her right arm but she plays softball and can catch a softball with her right hand (she is left handed). She swims, and loves to swing on the monkey bars. She can also bush her long blonde hair and put it up in a pony tail. She is a straight "A" student and I am constantly amazed at her sheer determination to be the best at everything she does. She will swim, practice infield, hit softballs to exhaustion to get better.

We still do her physical therapy and encourage her in all her efforts. She now has two brother (both delervied by C-section) and perfectly normal. Believe me they put her through the paces, too.

Bottom line, I would do it all again to get her to the point she is now. Most people never notice she has a problem (unless they see the scars). The scars will be repaired so the are not noticeable when she is a little older. Yes, sometimes one of the other children may say something to her but I explain to her that everyone has physical limitations and every one has scars the only differance between her and them is hers are on the outside and most other peoples are on the inside or in their mind. I also caution her not to let her problem become an excuse for failure...because we all fail at thing in our life and to use the failure to learn from and gain experience.

We love her very much.
Barry (Katherine's Dad)
Email Barry here.

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