Jeannine's Story

In our recent post about the extreme (and painful) leg lengthening surgical procedure to become taller, a Neatorama reader named Jeannine commented about her own personal experience with the procedure (hers wasn't optional).

Jeannine's story tells us what it means to overcome life's hardship, persevere against all odds, and make the best of the cards life had dealt her (she's now a drag racer!):

Tech. Sgt. Bill and Miyong Johnson feared the worse. But they never gave up hope. Their daughter weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces, and doctors at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, Loma Linda, Calif., only gave her a 1 percent chance to live. But Bill and Miyong never left their daughter’s side during the three months Jeannine was in intensive care.

“ She was so sick,” said Bill, who works at the 62nd Communications Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash. “We didn’t know from one day to another if she was going to live.” [...]

But the little girl’s right leg will never be normal. When she was 5, doctors started to lengthen the bones in the leg. The painful Illizorov technique they used would eventually help her leg bones grow. But her right foot is still smaller. [...]

The Illizorov process involved driving 42 stainless steel pins through Jeannine’s leg and into her hip and her femur, tibia and fibula bones, which surgeons cut into two. Attached to rings and rods, the pins stabilized the bones and allowed new bone to grow in the area of the cut. To work, however, meant expanding the ring of steel 1 millimeter a day. | Seattle Times news story about Jeannine and Bill Gates (yes, that Bill) | Jeannine's website

Oh, btw, she just graduated high school last week, so congrats Jeannine!

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I had this procedure done as well, although not nearly as extreme as the young lady in the article. I only had to lengthen my right fibula and tibia about two inches. It took about 6 months to do the lengthening and another 6 months to be completely healed
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My cousin had to do something similar to this, when he was growing up he needed to have special shoes because one foot was a few inches shorter than the other. He finally got the surgery and spent tons of time recovering; he never thought he would be normal. Now he's 18 and he is going to college and playing ball with his friends, its amazing. I'm glad that Jeannie and my cousin live in an age where medicine can help them live normal lives.

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