Boston Children’s Hospital strives to create a comfortable, supportive environment for all of its patients. Still, most can’t wait to leave the sterile hospital halls and return to the comfort of their own homes. Anna, a 20-year-old college student from N.H., has other thoughts.
“I can’t wait to come back to Boston Children’s.”
Diagnosis: Hip impingement
Anna first started experiencing hip pain at age 17 and thought she had injured herself during a ballet class. But the pain persisted, sending her a to local orthopedic surgeon, who referred her to Young-Jo Kim, MD, PhD, in Boston Children’s Child and Young Adult Hip Preservation Program.
Anna had a torn labrum (the cartilage surrounding the hip joint). It’s a problem often found in patients with certain hip conditions, such as hip dysplasia or femoroacetabular impingement. She underwent surgery to repair the labrum, but Anna’s journey was just beginning.
Her hip pain persisted, and she was diagnosed with a type of hip impingement called pincer impingement in her left hip at age 18. Anna’s condition required a more extensive surgery called anteverting periacetabular osteotomy (PAO). “I was apprehensive initially, as having the surgery would require me to take a semester off from school.”
She asked Kim question after question—about the surgery, her recovery and long-term outlook. Kim patiently answered every concern, reassuring Anna that she would be able to have children in the future and promising to help take care of her orthopedic condition for years after the surgery.
In fact, even though Kim is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon Anna will remain in his care for decades. That’s because pediatric orthopedists at Boston Children’s have expertise in managing hip dysplasia, hip impingement and other hip deformity conditions due to their experience dealing with severe childhood hip conditions.
Anna underwent her PAO in October 2013, staying in Boston Children’s for one week after the procedure. Kim visited daily to check on Anna and explain every step and also shared her growing interest in medicine with hospital staff, many of whom treated her as an inquisitive young adult patient and offered insights about their careers with the budding MD.
Anna left the hospital in a wheelchair, anxious about her recovery during the two-hour car trip from Boston to her family’s home in New Hampshire. Her anxiety subsided the next day when Kim phoned to check in and reassure her. “My parents and I were so impressed with his academic knowledge and kindness,” she says.
By Thanksgiving, Anna graduated from a wheelchair to crutches and continued to see Kim for monthly x-rays and follow-up appointments. Two months later, in January 2014, Anna was walking without crutches.
She also found that her experience at Boston Children’s strengthened her interest in medicine. Her ultimate goal is to return to Boston Children’s, but next time as a doctor—not a patient.
Anna is continuing to rebuild her strength and is focused on pre-medical studies at Boston University.