Making Strides

By Eric Roby - bio | email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - They are disabilities so severe most doctors say the only option is amputation, but there is a local doctor being called a miracle maker. He's changing the lives of children, offering them a normal life, when other doctor's give up on them.

A little angel ready to take on the world. At first glance you wouldn't notice her disability, but her right leg is more than three inches shorter than her left leg. "Any obstacle in the road she just rolls with it," described Maria Davidson.

Davidson temporarily moved her family from Philadelphia to West Palm Beach, so her daughter, Eva, can have a life-changing surgery.

"A lot of these kids, their only other option is an amputation," said Dr. Dror Paley. He recently opened his Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute at St. Mary's Medical Center. His specialty is to correct disabilities, like Eva's. "I have developed 100-200 different surgical procedures over the last 23 years."

His success rate is close to 99 percent, but that doesn't mean it's an easy procedure. First, the bones have to be broken, a fixator is attached, and then, for up to eight months at a time, the metal device stretches the bone and the muscle. It is very painful.

"Physical therapy is just as important as the surgery. This is where the bones, the muscle and the tendons will heal, and these patients will have to endure two hours of physical therapy ever say for months," said Dr. Paley.

In most cases, it takes several surgeries and months of rehab to get the correct outcome. "It's been a long journey. There have been several surgeries," said Alison Jarmas. She's in for her fourth and last surgery. Her fixator is about to be taken off, and she's looking forward to being a normal teen. "I am going to be learning how to drive."

Alison's long journey is over, but for Eva, her painful path is just beginning. She will have to go through this procedure one, maybe two more times -- spending months away from home doing rehab. But Eva's mom says it is worth it. "It will make her life a lot easier in the long run."

A medical miracle for a brave little girl that smiles through the hard times, but deserves nothing short of a chance at a normal life.

It's been three months since I last saw Eva. She is back in Philadelphia, but will be coming back to our area soon to have another check up. Her right leg has grown nearly three inches since the surgery.

So why did Dr. Paley decide to move his practice to our area. He simply loves our area. He was in the Baltimore area, and he was tired of the winter. And St. Mary's had the facilities that he needed.

As a result, patients from around the world are now coming here to get this specialized treatment.