Emily’s mother, Joy, did not experience significant issues during pregnancy, but moments after Emily was born, that changed. Emily was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in a larger city only hours after birth, and spent her first two weeks in the NICU, where doctors gave her a complete assessment.
Emily was born with spina bifida, as well as severe scoliosis (missing eight ribs on her left side) a leg-length discrepancy, additional orthopaedic conditions, bladder and kidney problems and other issues. When she was 6 weeks old, Emily had surgery to close the defect over her spinal cord. The following day, a long list of serious complications began, keeping her in the hospital for 28 days. During this time, the Mellishes learned about Shriners Hospitals for Children from a close friend. “It was comforting to know that even before I needed to worry about a place to take her orthopaedically, that someone had come forward and said there was a place where Emily would be taken care of,” said Joy.
Finding the right team
Giving back with Beads for Needs
Today, Emily is an energetic and sociable 12-year-old. She loves dancing, swimming, painting pottery and public speaking. In 2012, she started Beads for Needs, a foundation dedicated to raising funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children through bracelet and photograph print sales, and has raised more than $80,000 for Shriners Hospitals for Children – Erie. Without Shriners Hospitals for Children, Emily would not be Emily, she would be forced into a box,” said Joy. “With Shriners Hospitals there are no limits to what she can do.”
Emily was first seen at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Erie when she was approximately 6 months old. There, she has undergone several surgeries. Other surgeries, including a VEPTR (vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib) procedure, which stabilizes the spinal curve and levels growth, were done through a collaboration between Shriners Hospitals for Children and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Emily has also been seen at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia, where external fixators were used to straighten Emily’s leg at the knee, and increase leg length.After this, she was able to ride a bicycle for the very first time. Emily always amazes her doctors with her “no limits” attitude.