Girl beating odds, fighting battle against cerebral palsy

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Deborah Wrigley has the story of a 9-year-old girl making an amazing recovery.

Ireland Womack, 9, is getting out of the hospital, and that's amazing in itself.

She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler.

"Doctors called it a 'mild' case," said her mother, Tiffani Gray. "But I was devastated."

Ireland adapted, but her walk was awkward. Her left foot rotated, a "toe-in" doctors called it. She insisted on running, but a lot of times, that resulted in a fall.

"She'd just get up and say she was fine," said her mother. But with each fall, her mom's heart broke a bit more.

"She knew she was different from other kids," she said. "And kids can be mean." Asked if she was teased, Ireland softly replied, "a lot."

That is changing, and even her surgeon is amazed by the little girl with a ponytail.

Last Wednesday, Ireland had her first major surgery. In it, Dr. Douglas Barnes, who's also Shriners Hospital for Children's chief of staff in Houston, cut through the femur in Ireland's left leg and rotated the bones 35 degrees. It was then screwed back into place, with a metal plate attached.

"When she went into surgery, her foot was turned," said Gray. "When she was brought back to her room, her foot was perfectly straight."

For Dr. Barnes, the surgery is common, but Ireland's recovery has amazed him.

"We usually expect them to be here for two or three weeks in rehab," he said. "She achieved all her goals in one week. She was done just a week ago on Wednesday."

He refers to it as the magic she brought with her. Determination accounts for much of that.

"I do have a lot of determination," Ireland said. She also wants to give other cerebral palsy patients hope. "I want to look at other kids and say this is what I did and what you can do and you'll be able to walk straight."

Ireland wants to run track in school, and she also wants to be a teacher. She's already teaching people a lot about courage, and overcoming a big challenge.
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healthcerebral palsyHouston
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