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Sidorela Lleshi

Queens, NY

I was born prematurely with Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. I first came to Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) dragging my right foot, unable to lift it up off the ground. During my first visit, I met with the late Doctor Root. In his kindhearted and compassionate way, he reviewed my case and told me that I needed surgery right away. He referred me to my current specialist Dr. Dodwell, who ultimately conducted three separate surgeries on me including a right foot reconstruction to release my hamstrings in both legs. This surgery helped me to lift my right foot and has made walking much easier for me. I am very grateful to Dr. Dodwell for her careful work. This first surgery and the surgeries that followed have drastically improved the way I walk. The surgeries were not easy to go through physically and when I think of the painful healing process I cannot help but to think fondly and with a grateful heart of the nurses who made me laugh during my hospital stays. The comedic relief helped ease my physical pain. As part of my recovery process, I was also introduced to the Family Care Coordinator, Peyton Katz, who subsequently introduced me to a whole new world through the Adaptive Sports Academy at the HSS Lerner Children's Pavilion. This program has allowed me to live a normal life and experience the things that I never would have even dreamed of doing – things like surfing, skiing, and horseback riding. I’ve been able to meet new people and make new friends who have become like a second family. When I first walked in to HSS, I would have never dreamed what the result of my hospital visit would be. I am a new person – I have a renewed outlook on life – always smiling and enjoying things. HSS has truly changed my life and has proved to me that anything is possible in spite of my disorder. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the best doctor – Dr. Dodwell, and to Peyton and everyone I have met on the HSS team. I will forever be grateful to you.