We Gave Danny Ribs That Allow His Chest To Grow

Published on 
March 4, 2013

Danny's physician was preparing his parents, Carlos & Aracely, for the worst . . . soon, it would be time to take their 18-month old boy off of the machines keeping him alive. The toddler was living on a ventilator and a feeding tube and was in jeopardy of losing his life. Then, Danny’s nurse found a doctor at our hospital who could perform a procedure that would help him live a full and healthy life off the machines forever.

Diagnosed at birth with Jeune’s Syndrome - also known as asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy - Danny's body was growing but his chest was not. With every day that passed, his tiny, restricted lungs were having greater difficulty providing oxygen for his body.

The standard Pediatric Desk Reference indicates that, for children with Jeune’s Syndrome, nothing can be done. But once Danny was transferred to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, he was evaluated by Dr. David Skaggs of the Childrens Orthopaedic Center and a multidisciplinary team of surgeons as a potential candidate for a groundbreaking procedure that would allow him to live. He underwent surgery at our hospital to receive a titanium rib prosthesis that helped his chest expand, spaced his ribs to allow muscles and tissues to expand, and allows for easy adjustments as he grows older.

After his surgery, Danny thrived. He was able to get off of the ventilator and feeding tube and return home to recuperate. Eight months after his procedure, Danny, who had been confined to a hospital bed since birth, was spotted running down the hallway of the Children’s Orthopaedic Center to give his physician, Dr. Skaggs, an enthusiastic “high-five.”

No longer confined to his hospital bed, Danny has made amazing progress. His parents are still amazed at how normal he seems. “He’s doing great. He’s a real boy,” laughs his mom.

Meet Danny's Doctor

David L. Skaggs, MD
Endowed Chair, Pediatric Spine & Scoliosis Disorders
Director, Childrens Orthopaedic Center

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is one of only seven children’s hospitals in the nation with the expertise to perform the surgery that saved Danny’s life. And Dr. Skaggs is one of the few doctors in the country trained to perform the procedure.

To date, Dr. Skaggs has performed 20 surgeries such as that provided for Danny. “This is probably the single greatest advance I’ve participated in or even seen. Kids who were otherwise going to die are out playing soccer,” he says. “That’s why Childrens Hospital is here — to take care of kids no one else can.

The Center that Saved Danny's Life

The titanium rib procedure is just one example of the expertise provided by the Childrens Orthopaedic Center. The Center consistently receives national recognition for its care for children, which includes a state-of-the-art Gait Analysis Laboratory.   

Providing Care for Children Like Danny

Generous supporters of the Children's Fund help us provide care for children like Danny. We invite you to join this special group of people by making a gift online