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When our daughter Olivia was born, my wife Maria and I were shocked to learn that she only had three toes on her right foot and a fairly obvious ankle deformity. Without any prior knowledge of this condition, we were advised by the on-call orthopedic surgeon in the hospital that she believed Olivia had a condition called Fibular Hemimelia, in which the fibula bone was absent in the lower leg.
She strongly advised us against looking up Olivia’s condition on the internet, stating that the most common treatment would be amputation and fitment of a prosthetic limb. We saw the same doctor again when Olivia was three months old. She mentioned that in lieu of amputating, lengthening of the tibia was an option to combat the inevitable leg-length discrepancy. This doctor, however, had no plan or suitable method to treat the ankle deformity.
We heard of Dr. Paley through a family member and sought a second opinion when Olivia was only four months old. Before we even met Dr. Paley, Maria and I knew that we had come to the right doctor. While waiting in the office for our appointment, we met numerous other families, coming from around the world, who relayed their tales of how Dr. Paley had changed their lives for the better. Upon meeting him, Dr. Paley immediately made us feel at ease. He described the treatment plan that he stated would correct both her leg length discrepancy and her ankle deformity. The plan that he described wasn’t conjecture or experimental medicine; it was based on other procedures that he had already successfully completed with positive results. Beyond the treatment plan, Dr. Paley further calmed our nerves during the appointment by patiently answering every question we thought up, without regard for the length of the appointment. He further impressed us with his accessibility by remaining available for further questions by either email or telephone whenever we had the need. We were sold.
In July 2009, when Olivia was only 18 months old, we nervously boarded a plane and moved from northern Virginia to West Palm Beach for treatment at the newly opened Paley Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute on the grounds of St. Mary’s Hospital. In the surgery, Dr. Paley placed an external fixator onto Olivia’s tibia and corrected the ankle deformity using a technique called the Super Ankle Procedure that he developed. The surgery was successful and went as Dr. Paley explained it would. In fact, everything about the entire experience went exactly as he explained it would.
Due to the enormous size of the fixator compared to her little body, Olivia demonstrated her sheer will despite our greatest skepticism and began walking only seven days after surgery. We followed Dr. Paley’s treatment plan and rigorous physical therapy plan for the duration of the lengthening process before returning home.
The fixator was removed five-and-a-half months later and replaced with a cast. After the removal surgery, Dr. Paley reported that Olivia achieved textbook perfect results throughout this procedure. Maria and I prefer to believe that Dr. Paley’s extraordinary skills are the reason that Olivia has had such positive results.
Two months after the fixator was removed, Olivia is thriving. Today she runs, jumps, climbs, and acts just like most two-year-olds who do not have her condition. And now, for the first time in her life, she has two legs that are the same length.
The full experience of being a patient of Dr. Paley is not solely about his precision as a surgeon, or his work as a tireless researcher and a ground-breaking medical pioneer. These descriptors would be incomplete without also describing the relationships that he develops with his patients and their families. Dr. Paley is dedicated to his patients beyond the operating room. He is committed to being the supreme advocate for his patients at all cost.
Over the course of our treatment, there was no request, too great or too little, for Dr. Paley to become involved in to seek a positive resolution. For these things, my family and I are forever in Dr. Paley’s debt.
Maria and Phil
Aidan was born on the Fourth of July, 2003 with fibula hememlia (undetected through multiple ultrasounds), and the doctor at the hospital recommended amputation of his left leg before his first birthday.
After doing a tremendous amount of comparative research regarding Aidan’s condition, we met with Dr. Dror Paley when Aidan was seven weeks old. After meeting Dr. Paley I felt so confident and comfortable—there was no looking back. At age one Aidan had surgery with Dr. Paley to create a heel bone (calcaneous) from a piece of Aidan’s pelvis. At age 3 ½ he had a tendon transfer to help assist his foot lie flat to the ground. At age 6, Aidan had his first limb lengthening surgery with Dr. Paley at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. We live on Long Island, so in July 2009 we moved to the West Palm Beach area for approximately 3 ½ months. Aidan’s surgery went well and although those first two weeks were very draining emotionally and physically for both of us, he continued on with great progress. Dr. Paley’s staff was very accommodating during our stay in Florida and everyone was supportive and encouraging. His physical therapists, both land and water, went above and beyond in all aspects of their care. Even though it was probably the most stressful time in our lives, Aidan still speaks of our stay in Florida during with fondness. He missed the friends we made from all over the world, his therapists, and Dr. Paley and his staff. It took some adjusting when we returned to New York because he really missed Florida! I also missed the daily camaraderie with the other parents, the brainstorming and tips we shared with each other about the care of our special children. This journey has definitely been a rollercoaster ride—pin site infections, some set backs here and there,—but I always knew that we were in the best hands with Dr. Paley.
Aiden’s bravery has been inspiring for everyone he comes in contact with. We are where we are now solely due to Aidan’s courage and Dr. Paley’s expertise—and I am thankful every day for both.
Long Island, New York
Long Island, New York
When our daughter Alisa was born in 2006 with congenital short hip deformity, we were in shock. We spent about two months looking for a doctor in Moscow where we live who could explain Alisa’s diagnosis and prospects. Although Russia is the country where Ilizarov’s method was invented, doctors would simply shrug their shoulders, suggesting that we should “wait and observe” until the child was 14 years old. A friend advised us to go to Israel. So we did. In Israel we learned that Alisa’s condition is called PFFD—this was a starting point for our web search, and how we first learned about Dr. Paley on the internet. We were blessed to be able to meet Dr. Paley in person in St. Petersburg, where he came to share his experience with international orthopedic surgeons. Unlike all the other doctors that we met, Dr. Paley gave us a precise vision for Alisa’s future—including a detailed plan for treatment and the risks involved. After meeting with him, we gained peace of mind and the strategy for our actions in the years ahead.
We started our first surgery in 2008. Dr. Paley performed a Super Hip and Super Knee surgery. It should be noted that whatever complications Dr. Paley faced, he successfully solved them at all stages, and therefore our confidence in him is very strong. In 2009-2010 we continued with Dr. Paley at the Paley Advanced Limb Lengthening Institute. Almost seven months of uninterrupted struggle for Alisa’s leg had probably been the most challenging experience in our lives. We know we still have a lot of trials and tribulations to overcome. But this treatment was certainly a landmark. As a result, Alisa gained six centimeters of new femur bone and her legs are now even. Dr. Paley is really number one in his field and we deeply respect him. We don’t know how to thank all the staff at the clinic for all their support during our stay. We are blessed to have met all those wonderful people during our stay: patients and their close ones, and the medical and administrative staff. We have tremendous confidence in Dr. Paley and we pray to God that his talent and health are maintained for a long, long time to grant children with disabilities as much opportunity to heal as they can get in the world.
Dr. Paley’s talents extend far beyond medicine and surgery. He is a great chess player. He speaks seven languages. He can give lectures on the most exciting topics in linguistics including the evolution of languages, and the listeners would have no doubt that this is the level of a professional linguist. The same applies to many topics in world’s history. He is a truly Renaissance man of many faculties and yet he is probably the most specialized professional in his field. His mind is always open to experiment and novelty. Yet despite this outstanding knowledge, he is never conceited with his patients. He listens very carefully to all patients, every question is answered. And if a patient’s proposal makes sense to him, he can adopt it without any hesitation or professional superiority. We wish Dr. Paley many years of professional standing and good health. The patients of the world need him and his followers very much.
Olga and Aydin
Angelica (we call her Jay) fell out of a window in our country house on the outskirts of Milan, Italy from a height of nine meters on the 3rd of March, 2007. She had just turned three. Jay survived, but had multiple fractures at her pelvis and the neck of the femur. “It’s only bones,” we thought. “She will heal.”
She was treated locally. Her pelvis healed but the neck of the femur did not. She wore a full spica cast for six months, but her leg would not heal. She had a screw plate fitted in September and we thought this would do it.
The screw plate broke 13 months later in October of 2008.
Unfortunately she had developed a nonunion of the femoral neck and had lost 70% of it.
After a failed attempt to fit a new screw plate the situation precipitated. Angelica risked not walking for a very long time (15 years they would say, before being able to perform a hip replacement). Our doctor suggested we seek advice for her very severe nonunion of the femoral neck. In the meantime, all internal fixation was removed and she was put in a spica cast and did two hours of hyperbaric therapy every day for another five months.
It was now January 2009 and we started to look for the doctors with the most experience in this field. We soon discovered that her situation counted for less than 1% of fractures in children. Children normally don’t survive these high-impact traumas or they are left paralyzed. Jay was lucky, but nobody knew exactly what to do to treat her.
We saw 14 doctors we had carefully crosschecked, based in Switzerland, Italy, France, the UK, and the US.
We came across Dr. Paley, who was referred to us by our doctor and others with the caveat, “if you want to hear something completely different from mainstream….Dr. Paley uses external fixators…very long and invasive treatments.…somebody you go to when you are at your last chance.”
Maybe for us that moment had come. Dr. Paley was the 13th doctor we saw. We had accumulated enough experience and questions to know when we found ourselves in front of the right person. Dr. Paley offered us the reassurance and answers we were looking for—he was someone who would be creative in finding solutions for our daughter. Also, he was the only one who didn’t need to brainstorm with anyone else before getting back to us. He was straightforward: “I can fix her.”
We short-listed him with another doctor from the famous Mayo Clinic. After much thought we decided to go with creativity and geniality rather than protocol and brand.
Angelica underwent surgery on the 14th of April 2009. Her situation was worse than what we had previously discussed with Doctor Paley. The neck of her femur was mostly gone. Dr. Paley tried out a few options: he had the choice of traditional approaches or trying something truly challenging: rebuilding her femoral neck and the anatomy of her right hip.
He came out of the operating room and said: “everybody else would have stuck the head to the shaft. I also tried that first but I didn’t like it.” Thank God he didn’t like it! That option would have made her limp for the rest of her life.
Anyway, this was the easy bit. Angelica’s femoral head was partially dead and diagnosed with avascular necrosis after all the surgeries she had undergone (a total of five in 2009 alone). If the head collapsed, the chances of her walking would have slimmed significantly.
It took another surgery in August, more bmp (bone morphogenic protein) and more Zomeda before she was fixed.
I will never forget Dr. Paley’s SMS in September following our x-rays: “it’s either feast or famine.” Angelica’s nonunion had healed. Actually she had grown too much bone after three years of nothing! And the head was still looking good, it was regenerating itself!
Angelica is now walking and Dr Paley says she can do anything she wants—even ski!
We can never thank Doctor Paley enough for what he has done.
Some statistics: Angelica fell from a height of nine meters (30 feet) and survived. She broke a lot of bones and developed a very rare condition called nonunion of the femoral neck. After three years she healed thanks to Dr. Dror Paley. She spent 11 months in a full spica cast (first six months then five months) and seven months with an external fixator. She underwent a total of seven surgeries, including three with Dr. Paley. His surgeries were indeed invasive and the external fixator was initially a shock but in the end with her fixator she was able to move around, swim, take showers, and be independent. One couldn’t imagine having a life even remotely similar in a cast. If you ask Angelica, Dr. Paley is her hero. She would recommend him to you for any pathology you might have!
Angelica is thrilled to now walk and begin—at 6 years old—to have a normal life. From all the surgeries she has developed a limb-length discrepancy of the leg and will have to undergo more surgery when she is older, but as she says, “it’s OK as long as I am asleep and have Dr. Big Blue Eyes looking out for me."
Alessia and Alessandro
Our three-year old son, Jabari, was born with Congenital Short Right Femur. We were told by a local surgeon that amputation of his right leg and wearing a prosthetic was his only option. Well, his options expanded tremendously when we found Dr. Paley with the click of a computer mouse. Dr. Paley is a genius, and his gifted hands have afforded Jabari and others like him a life of normalcy. Our experience at the Paley Institute was an opportunity of a lifetime, and the kind service given by the physician’s assistants, staff, and volunteers was outstanding. May the blessings of God continue to pour upon Dr. Paley, The Paley Institute, and the entire St. Mary's Hospital.
Tosha and Julian
Our daughter Madison Grace had a septic hip infection at 9 months old. One year later she developed avascular necrosis (degenerative changes) of the femur head. We believed the degenerative changes had ceased until last summer when she began limping and complaining of pain. X-rays showed further degeneration, but we were told she would just have arthritis and overall she looked good. No other treatment options were offered. I knew that there must be another option other than pain, limping, and further damage limiting her from being the little girl who runs on all cylinders.
In researching avascular necrosis and Perthes disease, we found Dr. Paley. I remember sending the email to inquire about a second opinion. I knew that Madison’s case was far from the complexity of many of his patients, but she was our little girl and we only wanted the best outcome for her. The next day I received a call from Caroline Eaton. I will never forget the peace her phone call brought me and I knew after the consultation that we would have a definitive answer that could be trusted. I knew that God had truly opened an amazing door for our family.
As we traveled for the consultation, nervous and apprehensive feelings were quickly replaced by a compassionate, confident, and humble expertise. Dr. Paley and his entire team truly embrace and practice family-centered patient care. After a very thorough evaluation, hip distraction treatment was recommended due to her femoral head being partially collapsed. We made the decision for Madison to undergo hip distraction treatment with an external fixator. She has had a phenomenal outcome with a beautifully reshaped femoral head. Most importantly, she runs and plays without any discomfort and hopefully will now go a lifetime without another surgery.
As a mother, nurse, and healthcare administrator I wish I could find the words to convey my thoughts of Dr. Paley and his team. There are many doctors and surgeons, but few true physicians. It is truly unique to find such a caliber of expert medical care combined with genuine, considerate, and compassionate delivery. In every facet, Dr. Paley and his team provide patient care that is beyond remarkable. We are very thankful and forever grateful for Madison’s treatment and her amazing outcome.
Courtney and Sam
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
Our son, Nate, was born healthy and well. However, at the age of nine he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, in his femur. He underwent 18 chemotherapy treatments to heal him of the cancer, which was a very grueling time for him. He also underwent numerous limb-salvaging surgeries to reconstruct his leg. Due to the complexities of Nate's medical history, five centimeters of length were lost in his right leg during an otherwise successful surgery, leaving him with a length discrepancy. Nate learned to compensate by walking on his toe and could mask his limp fairly well. Still, it became clear that while his left leg continued to grow at a normal rate, his right leg was growing crooked and its growth was slowing down. The length discrepancy was increasing, and we were concerned with the obvious issues of spine, hip, and back problems which would eventually surface for Nate.
Although our fine physicians offered options for correction, we began to research the internet for alternatives. Dr. Dror Paley's name kept surfacing on links and websites, and after contacting him we met with him for a consultation. Within two months, Nate underwent surgery to correct the crooked area of his leg and prepare it for lengthening the following summer. Nate is now 14 years old, and after a lengthening and a three-month stay in West Palm Beach, he is just about ready to freely walk again on two even legs! Dr. Paley was able to lengthen Nate's leg approximately four inches!
We cannot possibly ever thank Dr. Paley for what he has done for Nate and for our family. Cancer took so much away from our active son, but Dr. Paley has restored again the dreams that Nate has for himself. His confidence, expertise, and competence are unparalleled. Dr. Paley is simply amazing, and we are so blessed to have found him!
Laura and Jeff
In 1958 at three years of age, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy of the right leg. I had difficulty with balance and coordination, and was slower to walk than other kids my age. I walked with a limp and fell frequently because my right foot was "turned in." Not much was known about CP at that time, and treatment options were limited to surgery, braces, and physical therapy—all of which were attempted on me. Following surgery—(Grice arthrodesis), I had to wear a cumbersome metal brace for several years. When I entered grade school, I ignored the curious stares and the many questions of the other students when they asked, "Why do you walk that way?" and "What is that 'thing' on your leg?" I felt "different" from the other kids simply because I didn't walk normally as they did. As the years passed, I continued to fall more frequently, and my gait became progressively more unbalanced.
Then in 2008, after having experienced both back and hip pain for several years and sustaining several more falls, I was challenged by a friend to get my leg fixed. I was determined to act on her challenge, but this time, I wanted the BEST medical treatment available. That's when I was given the name of Dr. Dror Paley. After reading about Dr. Paley's extensive expertise in orthopedic surgery and deformity correction, I knew without a doubt that he could help me. I was excited about the prospect of meeting this world-renowned surgeon who had helped so many others. In February of 2009, I traveled from California to meet Dr. Paley for the first time, and realized immediately that I was in good hands. He was compassionate, caring, and focused on my needs. He knew immediately how he would be able to treat my orthopedic problems. Dr. Paley was able to give me something my other doctors hadn't—HOPE AND A SECOND CHANCE—to improve my quality of life despite cerebral palsy. In September 2009, I flew from California to West Palm Beach, Florida, where Dr. Paley performed surgery at St. Mary's Hospital to correct my internally rotated foot. After the surgery I was amazed at the difference. For the first time in my life, my right foot is now straight! My friends who saw how difficult it was for me to walk before having the surgery are convinced of a miracle!
Dr. Paley also corrected several other multiple orthopedic deformities due to the cerebral palsy. Because of Dr. Paley, I no longer walk with a "toe to toe" gait or a limp. I am now able to walk straight, tall, and proud. Dr. Paley's orthopedic expertise has given me more balance, I no longer experience falls, and my debilitating back and hip pain is completely gone.
THANK YOU, DR. PALEY! YOU ARE MY MIRACLE WORKER AND MY HERO!