Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Jenna is a Shriners Kid

 With consistency and focus, Jenna proved that nothing would slow her down. “I’ll never forget the first time my daughter’s knee ‘went out,’” said Jodi, Jenna’s mom. Jenna was 9. “She was simply playing in the neighbor’s yard when she just stepped wrong.” It would not be the last time Jenna’s knees popped out of the socket. 

Jenna has patellar instability of both knees — a condition that occurs when the kneecap moves out of the groove at the end of the thighbone that holds it in place, causing either partial or complete dislocation of the knees. Only 50 to 77 of every 100,000 Americans are estimated to have some degree of patellar instability. This often r results in knee pain, stiffness and swelling. If left untreated, the individual will often need a complete knee replacement to treat severe arthritis from the recurrent dislocations. 

In the months following, Jenna’s kneecaps would continue to come out of place. “After several incidents and trips to physical therapy, we were told by a local orthopedist that there was ‘nothing he could do until her growth plates came in.’” The news left Jodi scared that her daughter would have to suffer many more kneecap dislocations, resulting in damaging outcomes. “It was sickening to think she’d have to go through what I did.” Jodi was the same age the first time her kneecap went out and was all too familiar with the pain her daughter would endure if the condition was left untreated.

Fortunately, Jodi’s coworker urged her to get a second opinion. “A friend of mine recommended Shriners Children’s Greenville.” Shriners Children’s Greenville is home to the largest team of pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the Carolinas and served kids from 32 states and 14 different countries in 2022. Jenna’s surgeon, Dr. Whitney Gibson, one of seven orthopedic specialists at Shriners Children’s Greenville, informed the family that he could resolve the issue, but Jenna would need surgery before her growth plates came in to ensure success. 

Four surgeries later, Jenna’s knees are aligned and stabilized. All the while, Jenna was anxiously waiting to get back to doing what she loves — running. Jenna’s love for running began in elementary school and blossomed into running all three years for her middle school cross country team, even when that meant running with braces on her knees. 

Now 17, and almost two years since her last operation, Jenna is back to competing in cross country races with her high school team, surpassing her personal records and placing second in the state. “It’s crazy to think that if we’d listened to the first doctor, she would’ve endured significant damage to her knees, and we would now be looking at much more intrusive and extensive surgeries. We are so incredibly grateful that we found Dr. Gibson and Shriners Children’s Greenville!” 

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