Patients & Visitors

Little Maya was Born to run

To see her jumping through her cheer routines, you’d never suspect that seven-year-old Maya Cluff was born with skeletal dysplasia, a bone disease so debilitating, it would have effectively immobilized her by the time she reached kindergarten. Instead, Maya is dancing, jumping and cheering today, running right alongside her two older brothers. “She has to constantly be moving,” says Maya’s mom, Elizabeth.

Imagine this spirited young girl being deprived of the ability to walk, and you begin to grasp the significance of the care she received at Phoenix Children’s. It literally put her on her feet so she could live a typical, healthy, happy little girl’s life.

A Disturbing Discovery

Shortly after Maya was born, doctors noticed that the long bones of her legs were not measuring in correct proportions. Her pediatrician monitored the situation, and when she turned three, he referred the Cluffs to the Herbert J. Louis, MD, Center for Pediatric Orthopedics at Phoenix Children’s.

“When she was diagnosed, the reality was that she would have to have surgeries in order for her to walk.”  - Elizabeth Cluff, Maya’s mom

“We met and immediately connected with our orthopedic surgeon,” Elizabeth says. He diagnosed Maya with her skeletal dysplasia, a condition that causes abnormalities in the size and shape of the arms, legs, trunk or skull. Major surgery was required to reconstruct and reattach her legs and hips. And it had to happen soon, if she was to enjoy a typical life when she reached school age.

One leg at a Time, one day at a Time

Maya underwent surgery in two stages; one for each hip. This allowed her time to recover, but caused her to spend about ten months with one limb longer than the other.

She struggled with a walker for the first several weeks, but Maya was undaunted. “She would get up and try to walk a little bit every day,” Elizabeth says.

“Once in recovery, she has never had any issues, and that’s because of the doctors at Phoenix Children’s. They are 100% competent.” - Elizabeth Cluff, Maya’s mom

Eventually she took that first step on her own, while on the sidelines of one of her brother’s football practices. She’s been going strong ever since.

Three cheers for Maya

Eventually Maya had both hips reconstructed and today she is healthy and active. “Physically, she has been able to do any of the activities that any child at a regular height can do,” Elizabeth says.

Maya’s care is ongoing. Because this is a bone issue, it affects the spine, neck, and other parts of the body. More surgeries will be required.

“There are things to come. But we know there’s a plan. And we know the plan has Phoenix Children’s in it,” Elizabeth says. She also knows that her determined, rambunctious little girl is up for it. “Maya is a dreamer. She doesn’t think there’s anything she can’t do.

Learn more about Phoenix Children’s Center for Pediatric Orthopedics.

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