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by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · May 18th, 2017


Lydia Parry is almost four years old. She is one of the happiest little girls a person could hope to meet, and she greets everyone with a big smile.

However, she and her family - father Paul, mother Donna and brother Landon, 14 - deal with Lydia's cerebral palsy every day.

Her condition was discovered when she was between 10 and 11 months old. The diagnosis was made by physicians at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They believe it is the result of a brain injury from the umbilical cord not being attached in a good location before Lydia was born.

Lydia has worked with people at Grant Wood and Witwer as well as the University. When it was determined that she needed a piece of equipment like a standing walker/wheel chair, a Cedar Rapids therapist suggested checking to see if the Shriners could help her get it.

Indeed, Lydia received the equipment and also access to orthopedic specialists who deal with similar diagnoses. Shriners from the Linn County area are available to help her and the family with travel, meals, and any other expenses.

Since December 2015, the family has traveled back and forth to Minneapolis every six months. She meets with doctors for checkups and evaluations and receives fittings and new equipment as she outgrows what she has.

Shriners Hospitals work with any child, regardless of monetary need, as long as they have the specialists to deal with the child's condition. In particular, the cases include orthopedic, burn, cleft palate and neurophysical disorders. Shriners assist with related travel and lodging for the entire family as needed.

The Parrys drive to Minneapolis themselves (although Shriners would take them if needed). Paul works at Alliant Energy, and they go to Minneapolis right after he gets home from work in the afternoon; then they stay overnight and go to early morning appointments the following day. That way Paul only needs to miss one day of work.

They speak highly of the Children's Hospital, noting that it is extremely clean and everyone is especially kind and treats them like family. There are game areas, stuffed toys for Lydia, and they feel secure and happy while they are staying overnight and seeing the specialists.

Shrine children's hospitals provide services to children up to age 18. However, if a patient has received treatment before the age of 18 and will require it longer, that treatment continues indefinitely. Lydia's condition is one for which she will be able to return to the hospital and see specialists even beyond age 18, which is comforting to know.

Lydia has been able to participate in a preschool which has small groups of seven or eight children at a time. She goes five days a week and is there all day.

If you know of a person under age 18 who might benefit from care through a Shrine Children's Hospital, you are invited to contact the local El Kahir Shrine group which is located in Hiawatha. The number is 319-395-0109 (M-Th, 8-4) or you could send a referral letter to El Kahir Shrine at P.O. Box 38, Hiawatha, IA 52233.

Direct referral numbers for the 22 Shrine hospitals are given at https://shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/refer-a-patient
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