Maria Assaraf doesn’t take a single step for granted, not after years of physical and emotional pain caused by a birth defect called congenital scoliosis. Now she is stepping up to prevent young boys and girls from suffering as she did.
The birth defect almost left Assaraf paralyzed from the waist down when she was two years old. After “several years in and out of hospitals going from doctor to doctor, surgery to surgery,” Assaraf says she finally underwent experimental surgeries at UCLA Medical Center that proved successful. When she was three, surgeons prevented paralysis by taking pieces of her vertebrae, and replacing them with some of her ribs.
“Although I have a physical challenge that makes it harder for me to walk normally,” she says, “I am so blessed due to so many kind and caring people who stepped in to help me and my family with the financial and emotional burden when we needed it the most.”
On October 1, Assaraf, a member of the Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation 2010 Board of Trustees, is walking with friends and family in the Annual Shamu and You Family Walk to raise money for the spinal research department at Rady Children’s Hospital.