A Fighting Spirit

Hanna Lebamoff

Print this page Bookmark and Share
Mary Chellis Lebamoff and her daughter Hanna.

Hanna’s Fighting Spirit

When Mary Chellis Lebamoff of Sugarcreek Township decided to adopt a child, she already had two sons, who were 8 and 9 years old at that time. But Mary knew she wanted an older Chinese child to raise along with her two sons. That was in 2006.

The adoption agency first told her about a 3-year-old with hip dysplasia who was one of three Chinese children waiting for adoption. The other two, who were older, also had medical issues. “Initially, I wanted to adopt a child older than 3, but when the agency representative called back, the 3-year-old child with hip dysplasia was the one who was available to me,” Mary recalls.  She agreed to accept the child.

Mary called Michael Albert, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Dayton Children’s, to get a better of idea of what she was dealing with. Mary, who is a physician at Miami Valley Hospital, met Dr. Albert when she was a medical resident and did part of her training at Dayton Children’s.

“Being a single mother with two sons and considering adopting a child with a disability—I wanted to make sure I could handle it. He assured me a hip dysplasia was nothing to be scared of and that it could be fixed,” she recalls.

Mary traveled with her two sons to China and was there three and a half weeks before returning with the little girl she named Hanna Katherine Ying Lebamoff. “I was anxious to get her home as quickly as possible since Dr. Albert had told me that the longer it took to treat the hip dysplasia, the harder it would be to fully correct,” she recalls.

Since getting Hanna home, the two have shared many joys as well as challenges as Mary has worked with the staff at Dayton Children’s to treat Hanna’s medical problems. The first challenge occurred early on after Dr. Albert took x-rays and examined Hanna.

“He told me this wasn’t a hip problem,” Mary recalls. “To this day, her exact diagnosis is still a puzzle,” she says.

Mary and Dr. Albert do know the child’s left leg was visibly atrophied and was significantly shorter than her right leg. A condition called hemimelia is a possible diagnosis. Hemimelia is characterized by the congenital absence of all or part of the lower limb. In Hanna’s case, she has bone, tendons and muscle, but the bones are tiny and the muscle atrophied. In many cases, amputation of the limb is the recommended treatment.

“Hanna immediately started physical therapy at Dayton Children’s to help her gain strength and range of motion in her leg and continues to be seen by Dr. Albert. She is also cared for by Ann Smith, a physical therapist at Dayton Children’s,” Mary says.
 
To reassure herself she was doing what’s best for Hanna, Mary took her to a prominent children’s hospital in Louisville in 2008. “They told me that her leg would need to be amputated,” she recalls. “I returned to Dayton quite upset and immediately talked to Dr. Albert. He emphatically stated the Hanna’s let could be saved.”

“Hanna’s treatment goals are to equalize the limb length and maximize range of motion and function in the left leg,” Dr. Albert says.
Dr. Albert performed a limb-lengthening procedure in 2009.

“The results are amazing. It’s unbelievable to see the before and after x-rays,” Mary says. Dr. Albert believes Hanna may need at least one more limb-lengthening procedure as Hanna grows.

Most recently, in April 2011, Dr Albert performed surgery to straighten Hanna’s foot, which was turned out. Her foot is now in a more natural position and as a result, more functional for this energetic 8-year-old.

If there were ever any concerns that Hanna would not be able to live a full and active life, they were quickly dispelled. Every challenge has been turned into an accomplishment.

One of Mary’s first challenges was Hanna’s fear of water. “She screamed and fought me when I tried to give her a bath. We had a Chinese interpreter who helped explain what was happening, but the fear persisted,“ she says. Mary learned that Hanna had never been given a bath or put in water while she was at the orphanage in China.

“I enrolled Hanna in weekly, private swimming lessons when she was 3 to help her deal with this fear” Mary says. Hanna has been swimming ever since. In the summer she competes with the Five Seasons team and year-round with the Kettering City Swim Team (KCST).

“She swam the entire eight months her leg was in the limb-lengthening frame. We just rigged a special flotation device so she wouldn’t sink,” Mary says. Hanna started golf lessons about a year ago (she can drive the ball 100 yards) and went downhill skiing twice this winter.

If all that weren’t enough, Mary was recently approached by the US Paralympic swimming team coach as well as an Olympic official who saw Hanna at one of the KCSC practices. She has been invited to participate in a sanctioned regional swim meet May 20 in Cincinnati, which will have representation from the US Paralympic swim team headed to London. Hanna will be the smallest and youngest swimmer to participate.

These accomplishments aren’t surprising once you know Hanna’s whole story.

“When she was still in China, the doctors who diagnosed hip dysplasia put her left leg in a cast that extended from her upper thigh to her foot,” Mary recalls. “She was in a cast for three months and then just put in a crib with no stimulation or exercise. Her left leg was useless and she was considered unadoptable.”

Mary was told that one day Hanna climbed out of her crib and scaled a large bookshelf to get something that interested her off the top shelf. After that, she taught herself to walk and go up and down stairs without ever putting any weight on her left leg. “She did all of this without any help and a totally useless leg,” Mary says.
Hanna’s fighting spirit that was so evident early on is stronger than ever as she continues to scale one obstacle after another. Mary gives much credit to Hanna’s physical therapist Ann Smith who has been working with Hanna since the beginning.

“Hanna and Ann are a team, and the two of them together have a fighting spirit that is inspiring. When I have felt hopeless, Ann has been there to encourage Hanna and me to keep trying.” And, Dr. Albert is quick to credit Hanna’s supportive family for all she has accomplished. “Hanna’s family has not been afraid to give her opportunities to try new things. With their support and Hanna’s spirit and energy, there’s nothing she can’t achieve,” he says.

“It is not comfortable for Hanna or me to be the center of this attention, but we have agreed to share our story because I want to express how grateful we are to Hanna’s team at Dayton Children’s—Dr. Albert, Ann Smith and all the staff who have cared for us the last five years,” Mary says. “With all sincerity I can say that Dayton is blessed to have this hospital and its staff in our community.”

Mary’s pride in her daughter’s accomplishments is obvious, but she is awestruck as well.  “Hanna is a miracle, to be honest with you. She’s amazing.”

Helping Hanna be as active as possible

Hanna’s treatment goals are to equalize the limb length and maximize range of motion and function in the left leg,” Dr. Albert says.

Dr. Albert performed a limb-lengthening procedure in 2009. This involved cutting Hanna’s tibia and fibula (two long bones in the leg) and placing pins in the bones. This left a space of five centimeters between the ends of the bones. The pins running through the bones are connected by wires to an external circular titanium frame. Screws on the frame are turned daily to tighten the wires and stimulate bone growth. After eight months, new bone had filled the five-centimeter gap, adding nearly two inches of length to Hanna’s left leg.

 “The results are amazing. It’s unbelievable to see the before and after x-rays,” Mary says. Dr. Albert believes Hanna may need at least one more limb-lengthening procedure as Hanna grows.

Most recently, in April 2011, Dr Albert performed surgery to straighten Hanna’s foot, which was turned out. Her foot is now in a more natural position and as a result, more functional for this energetic 8-year-old.

Physical therapy is also important for advancing Hanna’s treatment.

Hanna’s fighting spirit that was so evident early on is stronger than ever as she continues to scale one obstacle after another. Mary gives much credit to Hanna’s physical therapist Ann Smith who has been working with Hanna since the beginning.

“Hanna and Ann are a team, and the two of them together have a fighting spirit that is inspiring. When I have felt hopeless, Ann has been there to encourage Hanna and me to keep trying.” And, Dr. Albert is quick to credit Hanna’s supportive family for all she has accomplished. “Hanna’s family has not been afraid to give her opportunities to try new things. With their support and Hanna’s spirit and energy, there’s nothing she can’t achieve,” he says.

“It is not comfortable for Hanna or me to be the center of this attention, but we have agreed to share our story because I want to express how grateful we are to Hanna’s team at Dayton Children’s—Dr. Albert, Ann Smith and all the staff who have cared for us the last five years,” Mary says. “With all sincerity I can say that Dayton is blessed to have this hospital and its staff in our community.”

Mary’s pride in her daughter’s accomplishments is obvious, but she is awestruck as well.  “Hanna is a miracle, to be honest with you. She’s amazing.”
More about orthopedics at Dayton Children’s

Dayton Children’s orthopedic physicians are board certified and fellowship trained in pediatric orthopedics and are experts in the treatment of diseases of the pediatric and adolescent musculoskeletal system. This includes the medical and surgical treatment of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, skin and their related structures.

The orthopedic division manages a wide range of pediatric orthopedic care from simple fractures to the most complicated congenital anomalies and deformities. The practice, which sees patients through multiple clinics and in multiple locations, has been recognized for patient satisfaction by the Medical Group Management Association.

The group has offices at Dayton Children’s as well as Centerville, Franklin and Troy.  

Photo gallery:


 

  • After getting over her initial fear of water, Hanna is now an expert swimmer with paralympic aspirations.
     
  • Hanna with her swim coaches at Lohrey Center in Dayton.
     
  • Mike Albert, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Dayton Children's, checks Hanna's foot and leg.
     
  • Dr. Mike Albert and Hanna. Dr. Albert is wearing the tie Hanna brought back from China for him.
     
  • Hanna with her physical therapist Ann Smith. "They are a team," says Mary. "Together they have a fighting spirit that is inspiring."
     
  • Hanna's x-rays before and after her limb lengthening surgery, which straightened the bone and resulted in nearly two inches of growth.
 

Hanna Lebamoff Swimming
Hanna Lebamoff and Her Swim Coaches
Hanna Lebamoff and Mike Albert, MD
Hanna Lebamoff and Mike Albert, MD
Hanna Lebamoff and Ann Smith, physical therapist
Hanna Lebamoff xray 2
Hanna Lebamoff xrays

 

We believe there are 18 ways we're just right for our region's kids! Learn more and share your story at justrightforkids.org.

Upcoming Events

The 1st Annual Logan X. Hess Stop Child Abuse Poker Run and Car Show will take place August 3. The ride begins at the Piqua American Legion and ends at Edison Community College. The car show will be at Edison Community College.

Car Seat Safety Check at Russell's Point Municipal Building

Play golf at the world-class NCR Country Club golf course to benefit Dayton Children’s Pediatric Cancer Care Center. Enjoy the Hoopla festivities featuring dinner and an outstanding silent auction and a guest presentations from our brave Dayton Children's ambassador fighting cancer.

Car Seat Safety Check

View full event calendarView full event calendar

About Dayton Children's

The right care for the right reasons

Accreditations

The Children's Medical Center of Dayton Dayton Children's
The Right Care for the Right Reasons

One Children's Plaza - Dayton, Ohio - 45404-1815
937-641-3000
www.childrensdayton.org