Growing New Fingers For Gavin

FRESNO, Calif.

The first thing you notice about Gavin Azzopardi is his unstoppable energy. He's all boy, with a big heart. But what you don't notice, and what Gavin barely notices himself, are his hands.

"We didn't know until he was born that his hands were like that," Laura Azzopardi, Gavin's mom, told Ivanhoe.

He was born without his index, middle and ring fingers on each hand.

"It was never caught in the ultrasound because when he was sucking his thumb, so it didn't show," Azzopardi said.

Now, Cleveland Clinic surgeon doctor William Seitz is creating four new fingers for Gavin.

"We took his index metacarpal bone and moved it over to add on to his thumb," William Seitz, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH, said. "We took some toe bones and added to some other fingers."

The bones are then attached to a temporary metal lengthening device, which helps them grow one millimeter a day. At the end of a month it was 30 millimeters, which is a little more than an inch. So far, Gavin's had four surgeries. The fingers will continue to grow, but there may be several more surgeries, depending on the function of his fingers.

"When he was first born, of course, he didn't have anything and to see the fingers Dr. Seitzcreated, hold the cup and move to grasp whatever he is holding, it's amazing!" Azzopardi said.

As for Gavin, he's planning to take his game out on the field and hopes to be a baseball player when he grows up.

Gavin suffered from a congenital hand deformity, it's not genetic. Doctor Seitz hopes to not only create fingers but also joints in the future.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com

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