"She wasn't about to miss it."
June 7, 2018
Topics: Riley Kid Story
Being involved in multiple sports is no small task for any child. However, Ayden Wagler makes cheerleading, dance, basketball, rock climbing, and softball look easy, even with a prosthetic leg.
At 8 months old, Ayden Wagler from Odon, Ind., was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF) as well as pseudoarthosis and taken to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. NF is a progressive disorder that causes tumors to grow. This disease is rare and there is currently no cure. Due to strain from her leg brace, Ayden’s leg broke when she was only 10 months old, and it became clear over time that her leg was not going to heal properly. As the years went on, her parents decided that amputation of Ayden’s leg would improve her quality of life. “She constantly had to be careful to not hurt herself, and she couldn’t run around and play like the other kids,” said Ayden’s mother, Angie Wagler.
Through several surgeries, and the expert help of Riley Orthopedic Surgeon George Gantsoudes, M.D., Ayden made a full recovery. Shortly after Ayden’s surgery, she had her first t-ball practice. Ayden couldn’t wear her prosthetic leg yet because she was still healing from surgery, but that didn’t stop her. She participated in practice with one leg. “She wasn’t about to miss it,” Angie said. Today, she is unstoppable with her prosthetic leg. “She has three brothers and she keeps up with them just fine,” said Angie. “She is the most outgoing and happy kid you’ll ever meet.”
Children like Ayden face greater hope than ever because of the progress researchers are making. Physician scientists at Riley and its research facility, the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, are aggressively researching better ways to treat NF, and in 2015 won a prestigious five-year, $12 million grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence Initiative (SPORE) to support this work.
With the same determination shown by Ayden, Riley has the chance to change the course of research as well as the course of many children’s lives.
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