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Local sisters suffer from same rare condition, both undergo surgery same day

Posted at 6:47 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 19:47:52-04

OMAHA, Neb. — Imagine the stress a parent goes through when one of their kids has to go into surgery. Today, one mother felt that stress times two.

When Leilani Marks was younger her mother, Karissa, realized she was a little different from other kids.

"When she was pretty young, other kids would be running around and she would not. She was pretty clumsy as a kid and we just kind of thought well she's just a clumsy kid," Marks said.

It turns out her daughter wasn't just a clumsy kid.

"She started to have actual dislocations in her knee and we discovered that she has this condition," Marks said.

A condition of unstable ligaments in the knee, making her prone to dislocations. Then her older sister Tara started having similar problems.

"I mean we kind of came to terms with it with with Leilani and when it started happening with Tera as well it was just really heartbreaking," Marks said.

"Both Tera and Leilani both have patellofemoral instability which just means that the knee cap normally sits kind of like a bowling ball in a groove and as you flex and extend your knee, your knee cap should move along with that. When you have instability it just means that the patella is dislocating or sliding out to the side," their surgeon, Dr. Matt Tao said.

The two sisters couldn't be more similar. Both in marching band, both active and both with the same condition. Today they also both underwent the same exact procedure at Nebraska Medicine.

"Not common I'm sure it's happened before. Certainly for me this would be a first, having both sisters on the same day," Dr. Tao said.

"We decided that it would be best just to do them at the same time even though it's a little more intense that way," Marks said.

The intense procedure should fix the traumatic experience of constant dislocating knees for them.

"We put a new ligament in and then also move the bone. So there's certainly more morbidity, takes a little bit longer in terms of surgery but the good news for both of these girls is their both young, their both healthy and their both invested in wanting to get better," Dr. Tao said.

"So many nerves and all kinds of emotions, it's been a roller-coaster today but in the end it just really is such a gift that they will have this improved quality of life," Marks said.

The girls are expected to fully recover and be back and active in about a year.