During Stephanie’s pregnancy, a routine ultrasound at 12 weeks revealed that Braelynn’s left leg was not developing as expected. Shortly after this discovery, the family was introduced to Dr. Louise Reid Nichols. Dr. Nichols delivered the diagnosis of Fibular Hemimelia (FH), a congenital condition affecting the development of the fibula bone in the leg.
Stephanie’s doctors referred the family to Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware when she was just 20 weeks pregnant. From the moment they stepped through the doors, Nemours became more than just a hospital; it became a place of hope, compassion, and support.
After several appointments with Nemours, Braelynn’s family learned that her left leg needed to be amputated. She would receive a prosthetic and attend physical and occupational therapy sessions. What stands out most about Braelynn’s journey at Nemours is the connection that was developed between Braelynn and her care team. “The Nemours Orthopedic Department has been our second family since the day Braelynn was born,” says Stephanie. “We would be lost without their amazing hard work and dedication to their patients!”
“Braelyn is my little fin,” says Dr. Nichols. “Full of boundless energy and an infectious giggle, she was born with a significant limb deficiency of her leg. We started our journey gathering information and enjoying Braelyn’s spunky personality. One of my fondest memories was introducing Braelyn to another friend with fibular hemimelia at our Brace for the Race event celebrating all things ‘limb deformity.’ Sharing the journey with Braelyn’s family has been nothing short of magical.”
Braelynn’s recovery, though challenging, has been a testament to her resilience. After undergoing amputation surgery in March, she faced a longer casting period than expected to allow for proper healing. “Once all healed,” says Stephanie, “Braelynn was fitted for her prosthetic and has begun to take her first steps, just three months later! Today, she is doing amazing learning how to control her body and get herself where she wants to go, it makes all the hard days worth it.”
As Braelynn continues her journey, the future holds limitless possibilities. Her family often finds a connection with the character Nemo from “Finding Nemo.” Just as Nemo’s unique fin became a symbol of his courage and determination, their daughter’s prosthetic showcases her unwavering strength. In the face of challenges, this family embodies the mantra ‘just keep swimming.’ “We look forward to Braelynn living the best life with nothing stopping her,” says Stephanie. Stephanie’s advice for parents and patients facing similar challenges is to take each day as it comes. “At first, everything can seem so scary. As soon as you meet your child and watch them accomplish day to day activities that you were scared would never be possible, it makes all your worries disappear. Take it day by day and at their pace!”