A New Hand for Ryan
But thanks to the pioneering surgery techniques of William Seitz, a Cleveland Clinic orthopedic surgeon, Ryan isn't dealing with much now besides how to spend a lazy afternoon: playing with his 6-month-old sister Kaitlyn, turning the pages of his favorite book or feeding himself Goldfish crackers with the fingers Seitz created for him using bones from his toes. Seitz describes Ryan's three missing fingers as "a random event" that happens to roughly 1 in 10,000 babies, most without a definitive reason. Still, Seitz says, "no two hand anomalies are identical," which means even though he has sculpted extremities for more than 400 children, "every one has its twist." Ryan was 8 months when he harvested three bones from his middle toes, where the bone attaches to the foot, to create digits. (The procedure will ultimately not affect his feet.) Seitz then fastened screws from the bones into a painless, child-size stretching device he designed to lengthen the fingers a millimeter per day for 26 days.
Ryan has four surgeries behind him, and at least two more as he grows, but Seitz expects he'll do everything kids do. For Connor Mancini, 13, of West Lake, Ohio, who had the same surgeries when he was a baby, that includes playing baseball, football and trumpet in the school band. "We don't even think about it anymore," says Connor's mother, Cindy. So far the biggest challenge for Ryan is "the monkey bars," says David, 27, a dentist. But for Sarah, 25, happiness is "just seeing him use his hand like he does. Dr. Seitz's motto is, 'The more function a hand has, the less people notice it.'"
On Newsstands Now
- Kim's Delivery Room Drama!
- Katie: A Year After Split
- Princess Kate: Palace's Baby Plan Revealed
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine