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Maddie McGovern

Nutley, NJ

When I was just shy of two months of age, I was diagnosed with Russell-Silver Syndrome (RSS), a growth and development disorder that is the result of methylation of chromosome(s) 7 and/or 11. This diagnosis resulted in hundreds of trips into New York City endocrinologists and orthopedists as well as daily Human Growth Hormone injections until age 16. Furthermore, I took a daily pill of Arimidex to delay the advance of bone age and Zoladex treatments every 81 days to stall precocious puberty.

My orthopedic treatment took place entirely at HSS, a place that always felt like home for me. Initially, I was under the treatment of Dr. Leon Root. Dr. Root cracked so many jokes with me from 18 months old and we formed a fast friendship. I looked forward to my visits with him because he made me feel as though he truly cared about me. Dr. Root would remember so many seemingly insignificant details about my life which made me feel as if I was his one and only patient. He always was the most concerned though that I was doing well in athletics and that no shoe insert would hold me back from success.

Finally, in 7th grade, I underwent limb-lengthening surgery to lengthen the tibia, fibula, and femur of my right leg by 2.5 inches. This operation was performed by Dr. Rozbruch and throughout the spring/summer of 2008 I felt as though I spent more time with him than I did the rest of my 13 year-old friends. Again, like Dr. Root, Dr. Rozbruch made HSS into a home for me. He had children right around my age so he treated me as not only a patient, but as one of his kids. I had the utmost faith in Dr. Rozbruch that he would "get me back in the game" as quickly as he possibly could. Until that point, I was a three-sport athlete in basketball, soccer and baseball/softball. By December of 2008, I was back scrimmaging with my basketball team - 8 months after my initial procedure.

Although I endured immense pain from the procedure and recovery, my eyes were opened to the world of orthopedic surgery. With the procedure, Dr. Rozbruch had to compensate for additional disparity developed during puberty and therefore had to estimate how much to “over-lengthen.” Unfortunately, as I continued under his post-operative care, he came to the realization that my left side would eventually once again surpass my right. While we were considering treatment options, I suggested that he arthroscopically stunt my left femoral growth plate but continue HGH treatments to re-catch up my right leg. Dr. Rozbruch was pleasantly surprised that a thirteen year old could detail a feasible course of action. From that point on, it has been my dream to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. My physicians have been my heroes and were able to change my 4’6” destiny. Today, I stand proud almost a full foot taller.

Since my procedure, I have completed my high-school basketball career, a varsity member of the Academy of the Holy Angels basketball team my junior and senior year. Additionally, I played varsity softball while in high school. Upon graduation at AHA in 2013, I matriculated into the University of Notre Dame as a Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar - one of 25 in my class. I am a member of Notre Dame Women's Boxing and was named a captain for my senior season. In the spring I will be taking the MCAT in hopes of gaining admission into medical school. Thanks to the wonderful treatment and care of Dr. Rozbruch, Dr. Root and all of the nurses and staff at HSS, I have the desire to return the favor to some young athlete one day as a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.