For some kids, playing sports is not only fun but it also a passion. For Esteban Leon, 14, soccer is always on his mind. He has been playing the sport in school and on a competitive league since he started grade school. When he was only 10 years old, his dreams came to a halt while on the soccer field one afternoon.
“He felt something crack and fell down from the pain,” says his father Emmanuel Rodriguez and mother Jady Parra. By the time he arrived at the ER at Miami Children’s, Esteban could barely stand and doctors quickly recognized the signs of what could be a serious fracture. He was rushed to the operating room where doctors quickly went to work on his shattered hip.
Dr. Avi Baitner, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at Miami Children’s Hospital, says hip injuries are not common in children. “They account for less than 1% of all pediatric fractures.” X-rays showed Esteban had fractured his femur in the growth plates in his hip.
Because he was still growing, Dr. Baitner says he had to repair the bone and implant rods to fix his shattered hip while allowing his body to continue growing. “Hip fractures in children are completely different than those of adults and therefore must be treated differently. An adult’s bones are fixed but a child’s continue to lengthen, therefore the surgery becomes much more complex.”
Following the four-hour surgery, Esteban was in a body cast for six weeks and his movement was limited as his body healed. He then underwent several months of rehabilitation to retrain his body to walk, run and even kick. “It was really tough to see him like that. We were worried he would never play soccer again,” said Rodriguez.
A year later, Esteban had a second surgery to remove the equipment that was that was placed in his hip. Despite the months of treatment and recovery Esteban made a full recovery and is already back to doing what he loves most, playing soccer. His family says they grateful to Dr. Baitner and Miami Children’s for helping him heal and be able to return to his beloved sport.