1 of 2
Miracle and Mom
2 of 2
Raven and Catherine
Considering that they’re immobilized with leg braces, 2,000 miles from friends and their extended families and having to go through regular treatments and physical therapy, Miracle and Raven have much to be grateful for today.
The 7-year-old girls from Barbados have been in Richmond since October. They are here for treatment of Blount’s disease, a condition that caused their legs to bow inward and left them unable to run or move about without pain. Untreated, Blount’s disease can cripple.
Miracle and Raven went through surgery at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital soon after their arrival, and are still going through the treatment, which involves immobilizing leg braces that need to be regularly adjusted. They’re about to start Month 2 of their four- to six-month stay before they can return home.
The good news is that the straightening process is proceeding well. They’ll soon be able to engage in everyday activities that most children take for granted like just running for the fun of it.
They’re here courtesy of World Pediatric Project, a Richmond-based nonprofit that offers top-notch pediatric medical care to children in Central America and the Caribbean. Dr. Chester Sharps was on a medical mission with WPP in Barbados when he was told about the girls and a consultation was arranged. The treatment they needed was unavailable in Barbados, so it was arranged here. Basic needs and costs including flights, food and medication were covered through WPP. The braces were provided in partnership with Sharps’ Tuckahoe Orthopaedics.
Raven has been feeling good and is healing well, according to her mother, Catherine. Miracle suffered a setback, but is healing. She was visibly tired when she was in the doctor’s office for a checkup on Monday.
“It put her back,” says her mother, Natalie.
The treatment for each girl is time-consuming and involved. Natalie says caring for her daughter and the treatments, exercise regimens, cleaning, washing and changing bandages consume most of the day, leaving little time for sleep.
Catherine agrees: “It is a job,” she says.
Far from home, frequent calls from her father, along with friends and other family members help boost Miracle’s spirits.
“I try to keep her happy,” says her mom.
The girls and their mothers are staying in Richmond at The Doorways. Everyone there serves as a sort of extended family for one another, Natalie says. They’re all going through similar experiences, and they work together and help out as they can.
Blount's disease occurs in about 1 in 1,000 births. It is a growth disorder of unknown origins that is usually diagnosed and treated in the United States when its victims are toddlers. At that age, surgery is usually not required, and the condition is treated with the use of braces.
World Pediatric Project medical teams for overseas work draw about 150 volunteers from the Richmond area. WPP also has about twice that number of volunteers who are nonmedical professionals who work with the families and patients in Richmond. Those volunteers provide anything from transportation to appointments to social and emotional support. Learn more about volunteering opportunities here.
The Generic Solution
If your doctor has suggested you use a generic medication instead of a brand name, she’s practicing good medicine.
The American College of Physicians wants clinicians to prescribe generic medications whenever possible because it saves money, and you’re more likely to stick with the pill-taking regimen.
That’s according to findings reported Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “The use of generic drugs is a High Value Care way to improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices,” according to Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president of the group.
Generics are usually as effective as branded medications and are cheaper. The APA says that since you’re more likely to stop using a maintenance medication over time because of the out-of-pockets costs, moving to a cheaper generic drug may mean you’re more likely to continue taking a medicine as prescribed.
Valadka Heads VCU Neurosurgery
He succeeds Dr. Harold F. Young, the founding chair of the department and a professor of neurosurgery at VCU since 1976.
“Alex Valadka is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of neurosurgery and traumatic brain injury,” says School of Medicine Dean Jerome F. Strauss III in a VCU release. “He has led major clinical trials in brain injury and is a sought-after consultant. He will enrich an already exceptional community of traumatic brain injury researchers at VCU and VCU Health.”
“There is a lot of interest in working together and collaborating here,” Valadka said. “Even though it is a world-class medical center, it is also a very hometown kind of place where people know each other and get along, and that makes it much easier to work together.”
Valadka earned his medical degree in 1987 from the University of Chicago, then completed his residency in neurosurgery at VCU. He served on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, then became a professor and vice chairman of the neurosurgery department at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston in 2006. Since 2009, he has served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Seton Brain and Spine Institute in Austin, Texas.
He has been investigator and co-investigator on 18 research grants, has authored or co-author more than seven dozen scientific papers and was co-editor of the textbook Neurotrauma: Evidence-Based Answers to Common Questions.