Pendleton boy has surgery to fix hip

Staff photo by Sandy Holtz <br>Barb Anders, vice president for the Pendleton Eagles Auxiliary, right, hands over a $100 check to Chris Fitzpatrick while his brother, Dakota, and mother, Pebbles, look on. The auxiliary presented the money to assist the family with some of the expenses related to Chris' trips to and from the Shriner's Hospital for Children.

PENDLETON -- Chris Fitzpatrick is recovering from surgery that removed a wedge of bone from his pelvis and placed it in his hip socket.

He has to be careful not to bend too far forward because that could pop out the pins that hold the bone in his left hip socket in place.

He is not supposed to turn his right leg in or prop either leg up because these positions might also prevent the surgery from correcting the hip socket problem.

The 11-year-old Pendleton-boy was diagnosed with Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease earlier this year.

The disease begins suddenly and is usually the result of normal physical activity, not direct trauma to the area. It is believed not to be hereditary.

During growth, the blood supply to the top of the thigh bone is interrupted. Then the bone becomes brittle and may collapse. Cartilage continues to grow because its nutrients are supplied from a different source. Blood flow then returns, starting new bone growth.

At this point, some patients have normal bone growth and development while others develop LCPD.

Fitzpatrick was not able to walk or put any weight on his legs while he was wearing the casts. The only way he could get from one place to another was to be carried or pushed in his wheelchair. Now he is able to use crutches. Because he is still weak, he uses a walker or relies on the wheelchair if he becomes too tired.

Chris received his casts, surgery and physical therapy at the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Portland.

The family has insurance with the Oregon Health Plan and stays at Ronald McDonald House, if rooms there are available, while he is in the hospital.

If all goes well, doctors will be able to remove the pins securing the piece of bone in the hip socket the first part of September and in another year remove the steel plate that gives his femur extra strength.

But all this is better than the two casts from ankle to hip held 52 inches apart at the ankle by a sturdy bar.

"Anything is better than two casts," said Chris, who can do some things for himself again.

At this point, Chris is progressing well, but his future is still uncertain. The extent of his recovery will not be known until the healing time has passed and the plate removed from his thigh.

"We're hoping the surgery and treatments will fix the problem," said his mother, Pebbles Fitzpatrick.

Not nearly as cheerful as he was seven weeks ago when interviewed before the surgery, he is, however, still hoping to go fishing "in a boat like the other kids" this summer and to be able to spend some time outdoors with his brother.

"It's difficult for him to go outside," Pebbles said. "The other kids don't understand that if he falls or gets knocked down, it can do a lot of damage."

The family moved to Madras last weekend, where Pebbles' boyfriend has a secure job. She hopes to find work there also.

"If all progresses well for the next year," she said, "Chris may be able to play baseball and football again. He may not be a star anymore, but that was going to his head anyway."

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