Update – Alyssia Crook begins journey to pain-free life

CHICAGO (WZZM) – Her inspirational story made international headlines three months ago.

Her dream, her decision, her faith and — now — her recovery.

At the age of 12, Alyssia Crook made the decision to amputate her left leg because she wanted to be free from life-long pain.

In May, the Hudsonville girl’s leg was removed.  The two months since have been filled with recovery, resolve and rehab.

Alyssia Crook’s long medical journey has been filled with painful, positive steps. But these steps are just another obsticle Alyssia will overcome on her road to being pain-free.

“I think she’s just goingb to take off,” said Karen Crook, Alyssia’s mother.

In 2003, Alyssia was living in a Ukranian orphanage, where she was found by Chad and Karen Crook. The couple immediately adopted her and flew her back to West Michigan.

Soon after, surgeons repaired her cleft palate, and life was good.

“While we were there, we began to notice some things abour Alyssia; some things about her leg,” said Chad Crook, Alyssia’s father.

Doctors then evaluated Alyssia’s leg and found a rare deformity, called Popliteal Pterygium Syndrome, which is a bundle of nerves, arteries and scar tissue from a prior leg surgery in the Ukraine.

The problem? As Alyssia’s legs grow, the bundle does not, causing sharp pain, inhibiting growth and compromising circulation.

On top of that, some doctors had this suggestion – amputate both legs at the hips.

“I figured it was hopeless,” said Karen Crook.

But a friend suggested Shriners Children’s Hospital for Chidlren in Chicago.

“In my 20-year career, I’ve probably seen three or four cases [like Alyssia’s case]”, said Dr. Jeffrey Ackman, chief of staff at Shriners Hospital.

Ackman would fight to save the legs.

In between surgeries, Alyssia tried out for the school basketball team, staying active, but some problems kept resurfacing.  The surgeries were not getting the wanted results.

“They’re getting very, very, very concerned about her forming clots,” said Karen Crook.

All this left Alyssia this choice – shorten both legs eight inches, ending all impact sports, or amputate the left to save the right, and use a prosthetic.  Alyssia chose – amputation.

On May 19th, the operation began. The tension; the hours; the waiting would drag by, but when Alyssia woke up, the prognosis was good.

“I think the surgery went well,” said Dr. Ackman.

Ackman saved her leg at the kneecap which ended up being a better than expected result.

“I think she has all the factors both in terms of emotion and support,” added Ackman.

Alyssia now had time to recover, which didn’t last long.

Two months later, with some adjustments and tweaking, Alyssia took some new and bigger steps.

Today, Alyssia’s joruney is taking her to a life that’s finally pain-free.

By Brent Ashcroft

Click HERE to see previous stories on Alyssia

All at the Douglas Bader Foundationwish you well with your amazing recovery, Alyssia, and are so glad that you are now taking steps to a pain-free life. You’re doing brilliantly and we’re sure you’ll go from strength to strength and inspire others with your courage and positive attitude.

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