Malena was bed-bound, suffering pain and problems with her joints like many teen and adult patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The rare genetic disease affects nerve cells and causes muscles to become weak.

When Malena developed arthritis between the ball and socket joint of her hip, she sought pain relief, as well as an increase in function and movement, through a complete hip replacement.

“Her left hip was so painful that it was difficult for Malena to transfer from her wheelchair, participate in regular activities or remain in an upright position for several hours a day,” said Nina Daya, Malena’s mother. “We were looking for the best solution, and Dr. Pereira made that happen for us.”

Gavin Pereira and his team.
Gavin Pereira and his team

Internationally renowned pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Jon Davids had referred Malena from Shriners Children’s Northern California to consult with UC Davis orthopaedic surgeon Gavin Pereira. Pereira specializes in complex hip and knee replacements and revisions of failed joint replacements within the UC Davis Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Pereira had extensive discussions with Davids about the surgical options available to Malena. Davids was well versed in operations on the hip. He felt that a hip replacement might be a good option if it was technically possible.

Pereira met with Malena for an evaluation and heard her desire for a hip replacement.

“After spending time talking to Dr. Pereira, Malena felt like he understood her vision for herself and thought he was a perfect provider to make this a reality,” Daya said. “The relationship between Malena and Dr. Pereira is special and built on trust.”

Read Malena’s full story