Welcome Back Jennifer
Major surgery brings 12-year-old Jennifer hope
July 24th was a significant day in Jennifer’s life. She bravely commenced treatment for a genetic deformity that involved major reconstructive surgery to straighten both her legs.
“This inspirational young lady is such an important part of the ATS children’s home in Siarago and makes a warm and positive impact on everyone she meets.” Renee Heath.
Born with genetic disorder Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), 12-year-old Jennifer has not let this significant deformity become her disability. Quite the contrary, Jennifer has been extremely positive and despite her physical impairment has lived a very active lifestyle.
OI is caused by genetic defects that affect the body’s ability to make strong bones. A person with this condition has too little, or a poor quality of type I collagen due to a mutation in one of the type I collagen genes. Collagen is the major protein of the body’s connective tissue. It is part of the framework that bones are formed around. In recessive OI, mutations in other genes interfere with collagen production. The result in all cases is fragile bones that break easily.
Jennifer is a normal girl. She is very determined to overcome her challenges. Just like any other girl of her age, she goes to school, she walks, runs and plays a lot, and she has done these things as if there is no deformity at all! Jennifer just wants to experience what other children can do and indeed she does it with flying colours.
Due to the severity of Jennifer’s OI, one would notice that she did have difficulty in walking. If her condition were to be left untreated, Jennifer’s legs would repeatedly fracture and eventually she would not be able to walk at all.
Pastor Tom Scott, founder of ATS, and local church members of Latrobe City Christian Church raised funds of $5000 for Jennifer to undergo a surgical procedure to straighten her legs. Rodding is a surgical intervention, which involves internal "splinting" of the long bones by means of the insertion of a metal rod.
Jennifer had this procedure performed on the 24 June 2014. She had expanding rods inserted that could be lengthened as her bones grow. Jennifer’s journey to a full recovery took close to 18 months. When we first met Jennifer we knew that she was someone very special.
Looking at her, you did not see her display emotions of inadequacy and attempts for compensation but rather you felt the spirit of joy and gratefulness to things around her. Jennifer experiences life to the fullest and play as much as she can. She plays like other kids and although we thought it a difficult situation for her, she never once complained and never missed a second to enjoy the fun of a game. She strives to have a normal life just like the other kids do in the centre. We were all deeply moved by this inspirational young lady who is now back at ATS & attending school!
Jennifer is now back at ATS and is fully recovered!!