News Stories

Boy Raises Money to Make a Difference

December 5, 2014 – WPTV Channel 5 News
By Elizabeth Harrington

He's only 5 years old but already he's making a difference. This weekend Merritt Lavelle will walk in a 5K to raise money for children with debilitating limb conditions. But walking wasn't always easy for him.

"It's been a long road and he's done tremendously," says his mother Niki Lavelle.

Merritt was born with a condition called fibular hemimelia where one leg is shorter than the other. He also has malformed bones in his ankle and foot. The kindergartener has undergone several surgeries since birth and recently had an external fixator where pins were inserted into his leg.

His mom thought this weekend's 5K would help motivate him to walk again.

"He said mommy it'll hurt and I can't do it," recalls Niki Lavelle.

He changed his mind after his mom told him how the 5K will raise money for his doctor.

"I've always told him the point is not to win and the point is not necessarily to walk the whole thing," says Niki Lavelle, "The point is to be there and support all the other patients."

Dr. Paley's foundation goes on mission trips around the world to treat kids with limb deformities like him.  So Merritt started fundraising. Family, friends and classmates at St. Joseph Catholic School in Stuart all chipped in.  He had a big goal.

"One thousand dollars," says Merritt Lavelle.

He hit that goal. His team raised $1,400 and this weekend he plans to finish the 5K with his family. 

Continue for full story on WPTV Channel 5 News.

Saving Khye: Overseas Treatment Healing Aussie Kids

June 27, 2014 – A Current Affair

Photo from A Current Affair

It's a horrible medical ultimatum that no parent should have to face.

On A Current Affair, why Aussie mums and dads are looking overseas to give their children the chance to walk.

View the story at A Current Affair.

Miracle Surgery Helps Baby Girls Take First Steps

February 22, 2013 – Inside Edition

Now, a story... about some babies who were born with a terrible deformity of the foot.  In similar cases their foot would be amputated, but thanks for a remarkable surgical procedure they can now look forward to facing life on their own two feet.

Read the rest of the story on Inside Edition

Toddler from Australia Set for Rare Limb-Saving Surgery in Palm Beach County

September 6, 2011 – Palm Beach Post
Sonja Isger

Photo from Palm Beach Post

Even before Demi Reilly was born, her parents had been warned they wouldn't have the 10-fingers, 10-toes celebration at her delivery.

Instead, ultrasounds hinted at a deformity in her leg - one that baffled nearly a dozen pediatricians and surgeons even after Demi arrived.

Photo from Palm Beach Post

Her right foot was twisted and had only three toes. The small leg bone that's supposed to form part of her ankle was missing. And her right leg was destined to be shorter than her left. The doctors her parents consulted were almost universal in their recommendation: amputate.

Her parents balked. Instead, after nine months of networking and Googling, Demi's family has traveled halfway around the world from Palm Beach, Australia, to Palm Beach County, Fla.

On Thursday, a surgeon at St. Mary's Medical Center will reconstruct the 15-month-old's foot and leg as a dozen doctors from around the world watch in hopes of learning the technique Dr. Dror Paley developed more than a decade ago.

"I couldn't imagine scheduling a hospital appointment, taking her there to remove her leg," said Demi's father, Simon Reilly.

Reilly is a firefighter.

"In our profession you do everything possible to save a leg. Amputation is the last resort," Reilly said.

Read the full story at the Palm Beach Post

Limb Reconstruction or Amputation Provide Similar Function and Quality of Life to Healthy Population

April, 2011 - Orthopedics Today
By Robert Press

Function, psychological adjustment and quality of life after primary amputation or limb reconstruction in patients with severe fibular deficiency are both comparable and within normal limits for a healthy population, according to a recently presented study. 

The findings were shared by Dror Paley, MD, FRCSC, at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in San Diego.

"All previous studies showed that the results of lengthening are not as good as the function after lengthening reconstruction surgery," Paley told Orthopedics Today. "The consistent finding is that recurrent or residual foot deformities are the cause of the bad results from lengthening. In this study, we used a new procedure I developed for fibular hemimelia reconstruction called the 'superankle procedure.'"

The procedure, Paley said, includes a combination of soft tissue releases and supramalleolar and/or subtalar osteotomy combined with a more proximal lengthening osteotomy.

Use of the technique, Paley noted, has resulted in "almost no recurrent foot deformities," therefore the results are "functionally excelent with correction of limb length discrepancy and foot deformity."

"This has never been achieved before," Paley said. "When you can achieve reliable foot deformity correction with equalization of limb length, the result is nearly normal lower limb function."

Read the rest of the story at Orthopedics Today

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