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Restoring an Active Life, Inspiring a Gift

Anne Taylor struggled with damaged joints -- until she met Craig Della Valle, MD, of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.

Dale and Anne Taylor

Anne Taylor walked for eight years on a broken pelvis. The once-avid athlete no longer swam or played tennis. She rarely ventured out to dinner, let alone traveled. Taylor didn’t date either. “It’s hard to meet someone when you’re in your 30s and have to bring a walker on your date,” she said.

Taylor suffered from widespread avascular necrosis — the death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply — in her lower body joints, the result of a rare autoimmune disease called common variable immunodeficiency disorder with which she was diagnosed in her late 20s. She needed surgery to repair her damaged joints, but her autoimmune disease left her extremely vulnerable to surgical complications and infections. “ I saw a number of doctors at other top medical centers who all told me, ‘We’re sorry, but we can’t help.’ My case was considered too high risk,” she said.

Taylor’s life changed when she was referred to Craig Della Valle, MD, a joint reconstruction specialist with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. In 2010 Della Valle operated to reconstruct Taylor’s pelvis, repair her hips and stimulate bone regrowth. Now Taylor participates in 5k races for charity, has traveled to Europe and Mexico, and is dating again. Out of gratitude to Della Valle and his team at Rush for reviving his daughter’s active life, Anne Taylor’s father, Dale Taylor, and his wife, Angela Lustig, made a major gift supporting Della Valle’s orthopedics research.

“It’s terrible to watch your child go through something like this and to not be able to help,” Dale Taylor said. “Here’s a guy who has done something that other leading institutions said could not be done.”

The family hopes that this kind of philanthropic support will aid in the ability of Della Valle and his colleagues to help other patients with tough cases like Taylor’s.

“Before this surgery, I wasn’t living life,” Taylor said. “Today, I can honestly say I’m living my life, and I’ve never been happier.”

 

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