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Dubai's brave aACAylittle' girl.

Dubai: It has taken 10 months, three surgeries and monumental patience to bear excruciating pain for Judith Ratanayake to get a straight leg that will help her stand on her own. In the process she has attained at least 1.5cm in height.

"I guess I will be able to walk soon without pain and can look forward to being more independent," said the brave 13-year old grade seven student of St Mary's School, Dubai, with a wan smile on her face.

"I cried with joy to see Judith's left leg completely straight which was completely S-shaped earlier, making it difficult for her to walk," said her overjoyed mother, Renuka. She said that her daughter's real gain in height would be known only when she is able to bear weight on her operated leg. But she said the height gain was not really the priority as much as straightening of the limbs was. Judith's right leg, which is also S-shaped, will be operated on next year and is now shorter than the operated leg. Gulf News has been following Judith's health condition for about a year.

In February this year, Judith, who suffers from achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism that affects one in 100,000 people) underwent a laborious and expensive surgery called the Ilizarov technique, carried out by Dubai-based paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr Marc Sinclair under the aegis of the UK-registered charity, The Little Wings Foundation.

Subsequently, Judith had two more surgeries, one in April to readjust her ankle and a third one to remove the pins that hold her bones straight. She was discharged from hospital on her 13th birthday on October 22 and has been undergoing extensive physiotherapy. However, her leg which has oedema requires intense lymphatic drainage and a special brace to be able to undergo weight bearing again.

Dr Sinclair, who is more than happy with the results, told Gulf News: "The leg has taken a long time to heal and Judith will be facing some challenges in he coming weeks and months. The knee needs to be more functional as it often becomes stiff with the treatment she underwent. Also, some of her ligaments stabilising the leg are stretched due to the deformity she had prior to the surgery. Over time this should improve and I am sure that with all the will power Judith possesses she will be doing very well."

Dr Sinclair plans to repeat the Ilizarov technique on the right leg as well by early next year. "Judith's right leg is less affected. I would hope that we can correct the deformity in a much shorter time. An external fixator, however, will still be required. "

He added: "Judith has done extremely well and she is very lucky to have the support of her entire family. It is an advantage in my opinion to proceed with these major reconstructive surgeries when children are still with their parents and have all the support needed during the long treatment. She is a great example of this."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 7, 2014
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