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Haitian girl gets life-changing surgery at Montreal Shriners

10/06/2014 04:00 EDT | Updated 12/06/2014 05:59 EST
Three-year-old Waina Dorcelus is having life-changing surgery in Montreal that will likely save her leg from amputation after the Shriners Hospitals for Children offered to operate for free.

"It feels great. The satisfaction we have in helping children be able to walk and be independent has no price," said orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Reggie Hamdy.

The girl from Haitia recently arrived in Montreal with her mom, Nini Dorcelus, to be treated for a bone infection that destroyed the child’s left tibia two years ago.

Back home, the only treatment option for chronic osteomyelitis was amputating Waina’s leg — a prospect that terrified the little girl and her mom.

"I’m so happy that I can save my daughter’s leg," said Nini Dorcelus.

Waina had her first surgery at the Shriners Hosptial and is now wearing a frame on her leg.

In about two weeks, she will have her second operation, beginning the process of filling in the area where the bone was lost. 

Over the next five months, the frame will be adjusted one millimetre a day to move the bone back into place, a process Hamdy said may be uncomfortable but does not cause any pain. 

"I wouldn’t think she’s very happy, but she walks and she copes very well," said Hamdy.

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When the frame is taken off, Hamdy said, Waina will likely stay in Montreal another several months while getting help from nurses, physiotherapists and social workers. 

"She was not able to walk before this. Obviously, the success does not depend on the surgery only, it depends on the whole team behind this," he said. 

Waina and her mother first came to Canada after journalist Sue Montgomery was approached by contacts in Haiti to see if she could sponsor the girl and her mother during their treatment period in Montreal.

Although the surgery is being paid for by the Shiners Hospital, Montgomery is raising money to pay for the Dorcelus family's stay in Montreal. 

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