Like Alejandra, Fernanda is among the many thousands
of children the International Children’s Program has
assisted in receiving skilled and compassionate care for
complex musculoskeletal conditions at LAOH.
At 1:00 a.m., 12 year-old Alejandra and her mother line up at the Mexico-U.S. border. They must cross early, in order to meet the bus that will take them to Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital (LAOH) in time for Alejandra's appointment.
In 2009, Alejandra underwent spinal fusion surgery to correct her scoliosis under the experienced hands of Dr. Anthony Scaduto, Lowman Professor and Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedics at LAOH and a specialist in spinal disorders. Despite the challenges of such a surgery, Alejandra was a champion and a day after her surgery reported that her pain level was only a 2 on a scale of 1-10.
Now, when she comes to LAOH, it is for regular check-ups that will ensure her continued orthopaedic health. In her soft voice, Alejandra admits that her twin sister, who stays in Mexico, is a bit jealous of these adventures in the U.S.
For 50 years, LAOH's International Children's Program (ICP) has helped children around the world who urgently need orthopaedic care. ICP Coordinator Patricia Torres and her staff arrange travel and visas, coordinate medical appointments and follow-up, and ensure that families are cared for when their children are in the United States for surgery.
The ICP also runs free monthly screening clinics in the border town of Calexico, California, where LAOH physicians Dr. Scaduto, Dr. Richard Bowen and Dr. Mauricio Silva - assisted by LAOH fellows and residents in rotation from the UCLA/Orthopaedic Hospital Department of Orthopaedic Surgery - volunteer their time and expertise to diagnose a variety of advanced and complex conditions including muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, hip dysplasia and clubfoot. Families frequently travel up to 18 hours to attend a clinic, a visit that often becomes their first step to improved health.
“Each trip to Calexico reminds me of the enormous need for care in this region and the great impact caring individuals can have on children's lives through a program like the ICP.” – Richard Bowen, M.D.