Maritza’s Story

Crossing the Atlantic for the Best Orthopaedic Care

Dr. Voos (left) and MaritzaFor 15-year-old Maritza Guerra, her freshman year in high school was like most other American girls – filled with schoolwork, friends and extra-curricular activities. Except that Maritza wasn’t in America, she was in China at the Shanghai American School (SAS). When an injury to her knee resulted in the need for surgery, Maritza’s family sought a top orthopaedic surgeon. Their search led them to James Voos, MD.

The daughter of an executive at The Lincoln Electric Company (Co.), Maritza – now 16 – lived in China for four years with her parents and brother, Gregory. As a member of a local, youth dance team, she participated in regular practices with the group. During one of those practices, Maritza was performing a move that required a controlled fall to the floor. She slipped and when her left knee hit the floor, she heard a crack and felt shooting pain. “I was unable to put any weight on my left leg and my knee swelled up to the size of a pomegranate,” said Maritza.

Maritza’s parents, Joaquin and Joanne, had her evaluated in Shanghai and it was determined that surgery was required. While they knew that the surgeons in Shanghai were very competent, during a trip to Cleveland for business, Joaquin discussed Maritza’s condition with a trusted colleague. That conversation yielded a recommendation to see Dr. James Voos, Chief of the Division of Sports Medicine at UH and Head Team Physician for the Cleveland Browns. Dr. Voos specializes in knee surgery.

After communicating with the Guerra family across the Atlantic via phone and email, and after viewing Maritza’s MRI, Dr. Voos was confident he could surgically repair her knee. By this time, it was close to the Christmas holiday, and Maritza’s SAS Winter Formal was scheduled for January 24 – an event she was very much looking forward to attending. “Although he is extremely well-recognized and quite busy with patients, Dr. Voos accommodated our proposed travel schedule with short notice,” said Joanne.

“Maritza had what is referred to as a Discoid Lateral Meniscus,” said Dr. Voos. He continued, “The meniscus acts as a shock absorber between the thighbone and shinbone, and when it is abnormally shaped – as was the case with Maritza – it can be more prone to injury.”

Joanne and Maritza – with crutches in tow – made the 25-hour journey to Cleveland and the surgery took place on December 31, 2014 at UH Ahuja Medical Center. “Dr. Voos was different than the other orthopaedic specialists we encountered; he was very paternal in his manner with Maritza,” said Joanne. “Everything about our experience at UH Ahuja was graceful, and I knew that Dr. Voos was the one person I could trust to take care of my daughter.”

Maritza at her SAS Formal, just three weeks post-surgeryKnowing that Maritza had high hopes of attending her formal just three weeks later, Dr. Voos encouraged her prior to the surgery. According to Maritza, “He told me not to plan on sitting home that night. He said that I should hold on to my dance card, and I believed him.”

A complete success, the surgery enabled Maritza to walk just hours after the procedure as Dr. Voos had forecasted. “She could walk better on the day of surgery than she could the entire month preceding the surgery,” said Joanne.

Five days later, the Guerra’s were back in China and on the night of the Winter Formal, just three weeks later, Maritza looked stunning in her dress and was able to dance the night away with her date.

The Guerra family has returned to the United States and now lives in Cincinnati. “Since a recovery lasts a lifetime, we will call upon Dr. Voos again for his advice,” said Joanne. “It is our great fortune to be attended to by one of the best orthopaedic knee specialists in the U.S. and we feel that his opinion is gold.”

For an appointment with Dr. Voos or any of the expert surgeons in the UH Division of Sports Medicine, call 216-983-PLAY (7529) or log on to UHSports.org.

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