Monday, April 6, 2009

Kate's Hand Doctor

I've mentioned before that Kate has syndactyly (I never seem to spell that correctly). In other words, webbed fingers and toes.

For those that don't know what it looks like:

[ link ]

Kate's was very similar except that her final 3 fingers, on her left hand, were joined in a similar fashion. I use to call her The Penguin (Batman Returns) for fun. More to help us deal with it that her because she probably won't care...she's just that happy of a child.

She had Complex Complete Syndactyly, meaning that the bones from each of her digits (fingers) were fused at the tip and the there was no break in the skin. (Her hands really did look like The Penguin).

The point of all this was that Kris sent me a CNN link today about Hand Camp gives kids a chance to play -- away from stares. The guy that runs it, Dr. Paul Dell, is the man who performed Kate's first 2 surgeries, separating her last 3 digits. The website for the organization is Hands To Love. Dr. Dell is the Division Chief, Hand, Upper Extremity and Microsurgery at the University of Florida and also a founding member of American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery.

Dr. Dell is a very good man. When we consulted with him I specifically said, "I just want her to be able to wear a wedding ring." That was my very first thought when I first saw her hand, "how can she wear a wedding ring?" In his surgery notes, he made specific mention of that concern. I couldn't have been happier. Kate will never be "perfect" but she's perfect to me and Kris and that is all that really matters.

So take a gander at his site and at the slides on CNN. Very moving and very worthwhile stuff.


Tim... said...


Physical issues are often more of a worry to adults than children. Children just get on with things and ignore them, while their parents panic. :)

My nephews play football with a kid whose hand is withered and missing some fingers. They've never mentioned it.

Recently Childrens BBC employed a presenter with a missing arm. It prompted this:

Some parents feeling awkward about explaining why her arm is missing and some "claiming" their kids are scared by it. I find the latter hard to believe. It is adults that influence childrens opinions on such things.

If people treat Kate like she has a problem she will think she has one. If she is treated like every other kid she will probably not even care about it.

Have a good one.



oraclenerd said...


Very good points.

It was initially very expect a perfect child with no deformities. Kate had them. Telling my wife was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

However, when we thought she had "seizures" (in quotes because she is just twitchy, really twitchy) we began to put things in perspective. We played "Dueling Banjos" from Deliverance in her NICU crib. I began giving her nicknames.

However, I will refrain from that in the future in all likeliness...

I don't believe Little Chet even notices his sister's deformities. So you are right. But we've seen children (from not so desirable parents of course) that do notice and do make fun. I don't mind questions, I think curiousity is good, but it's that mean spirited stuff that will one day make me mad.

Tim... said...


The more you try to hide, excuse or over-complicate it the harder it will be.

Humans have this knack of making the simplest thing complicated. It will all work itself out. :)