Help Cinderella Make It to the Ball

Paley Institute, St. Mary's Medical Center

  • $1.00

An expensive complex surgery will save four-year old Liza

Liza Khomenko, 4 years old, neurofibromatosis, false joint of the left shin, requires surgical treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital (West Palm Beach, Florida, USA). $108,000

Liza is our long-awaited and only daughter. Her arrival in this world was a moment of great happiness for us. But the problems that our baby needed to face from the first months of her life were not at all child’s play. Liza was born with a good height and weight, the doctors said that the girl was big and healthy and our joy knew no bounds. But I noticed that her left leg seemed to be sprained. The nurse calmed me down, saying that I shouldn’t worry: this was because of the tension of the muscles, and everything could be corrected with a massage. But after two weeks, for my own peace of mind, I took my daughter to an X-ray anyway. It turned out that Liza had a congenital deformity of the left shin. We went to our Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Orthopedics and showed them the pictures. The doctors completely shocked us: they said that Liza had an incomplete false joint — and they could not do anything, they only advised us to watch and hope that the leg would get better by itself. We really wanted to believe that!

Liza grew up calm, she was not a very active child – she began to get up only when she was one year old, but she walked with support; then, however, she began to run with the walker. She was proudly saying: “I am walking!” But in a little more than a year, the first fracture happened, on completely level ground — my daughter jerked her legs sharply and screamed terribly. I thought I would lose my mind, there was so much pain in her eyes. My daughter was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, the X-ray showed a fracture of the bone, and they put her in a cast. An additional examination revealed that Liza had neurofibromatosis: an incurable disease in which multiple tumors affect the skeleton and internal organs, and with this disease, fractured bones don’t grow together. But little Liza got lucky this time: the fracture healed. When the cast was removed, they recommended we go for a consultation to the Turner Institute in St. Petersburg. There, the orthopedist recommended to order a leg brace. But we didn’t even have time to put it on: the second fracture occurred at home while bathing, this time with a shift so that the bones didn’t want to grow together. We began to search for doctors and clinics where they could help our daughter, and we were writing to large medical centers. But the answers were all identical: the prognosis was not good, surgery was almost useless because of the high risk of recurrence of the false joint. They even talked about amputation of the left leg. A doctor from St. Petersburg advised us to remove the false joint and secure the bone with the Ilizarov apparatus. This surgery was performed when Liza was three years old. I remember how it was, and my eyes fill up with tears. Liza was brought from the operating room with this construction: a huge apparatus on a tiny, thin leg.

When Liza came out of anesthesia, she cried for a long time, she was afraid to look at her leg and asked us to remove the device. But then she got used to it, and we went home already with the hope that all the suffering was not for nothing and everything would be fine. My daughter wore the apparatus for five months. But when at last they removed it and performed a control X-ray, it turned out that the bone was destroyed in several places. A month later, it turned out that Liza was developing a new false joint. We were offered only a repeated surgery, and this meant another shortening of the leg, wearing the apparatus and a cast. But Liza’s left leg was already 4.5 cm shorter than her right leg, her muscles had shrunk, her shin was deformed.

Already before the operation in St. Petersburg, I had learned about Dr. Dror Paley, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon from the United States, who was profiled in a program on Channel One Russia. Through the mother of the girl whom Dr. Paley was operating on in the US (Rusfond raised money for her), I got his address and sent him all our photos. He soon replied that he was ready to take Liza on, and, despite our unfortunate experience with previous treatments, he is giving a guarantee that our daughter will not only walk, but also run and even play sports! However, to be honest, the price of the surgery shocked us: we would never be able to collect such an amount, even if we sold everything we have, including our house.

Our Liza is a smart and intelligent girl, she already knows all the letters, knows how to count, loves to sculpt, sing and draw. And she also loves to dance, a lot: however, for now she is only dancing in her dad’s arms. She dresses up in a beautiful dress and imagines herself as Cinderella, who is dancing with the prince at the ball...

I never thought that I would ever ask for help, I’m used to achieving everything myself, but it seems that the day has come.

Please help me rescue my little girl from disability.

Nadezhda Khomenko,
Nizhny Novgorod region

Dr. Dror Paley, Orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital (West Palm Beach, Florida, USA): “Lisa has neurofibromatosis, a false joint of the left shin. My technique does not involve removal of the joint. We will carry out surgery on the girl, during which the pathological tissue which is surrounding the bone and damaging it will be removed. Afterwards, in order to strengthen the bones of the left leg, we will install special sliding rods in them. A transplant will be created from the pelvic bone to further strengthen the tibia and fibula bones. The periosteum of the pelvic bone will be used to replace the soft tissues that were removed during the previous surgical treatment. Such a surgical technique allows the prevention of severe complications, such as a difference in leg length and deformity of the knee and foot. The treatment prognosis is positive.”

The cost of Liza’s surgical treatment is $108,000. We are happy to report that Rusfond in Moscow has raised the entire amount needed. The participants in the MINI Drives Russia 2019 rally raised $15,000, and $93,000 were raised by donations to the Rusfond children’s charity in Russia.

However, an additional $8,520 is required for her and her mother's flights, housing assistance, food, local transportation, physical therapy, and other associated expenses for the duration of their stay in the USA, which is expected to last at least three months. Dear friends! If you want to help Liza please don't let the cost stop you. Your donation in any amount will be gratefully accepted. Thank you! All donations in excess of what is needed for Liza will help other children in need of orthopedic surgery.

November 14, 2019
Liza was successfully operated at St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida.

December 2019
Liza undergoes physical therapy at St. Mary's Hospital.

February 2020
Liza will need additional surgery.