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Pandemic means complexity in international medical tourism at world-renowned Paley Institute

"We've had to reinvent ourselves 20 times."
Posted at 8:22 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 08:22:53-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Baby “Q” and his family from South Africa are staying in Lake Worth right now. They’ll be here for months to come as they get care at the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“Searched and searched and searched, because we had gone to one orthopedic surgeon after another, and each and everyone one of them said to us, the only hope that Q will ever walk is if they amputate both his legs,” said Nthabiseng Nhlanhla, his mother.

Adamant to find a solution, the parents carried on.

“My husband, I was literally just off the c-section bed, he was on the internet googling and found Dr. Paley,” said Nhlanhla.

But it was difficult to get here during a pandemic.

“The pandemic added an extra layer of complexity in the sense that countries started closing down borders, and we couldn’t travel easily,” said Mzwakhe Nhlanhla, the father. “Travel was very restricted, and we had to get special permission. Everything was stacked against us getting to St. Mary’s hospital, but through God’s Grace, we were able to get there.”

Dr. Dror Paley said when all is said and done, this child will walk, run, and play. He said they’ve had to move mountains to continue international care during the pandemic.

“This has created tremendous havoc,” he said. “We have had to reinvent ourselves 20 times over the last year.”

The Paley Institute is world renowned. Patients from all 50 states and about 100 countries have traveled here to West Palm Beach.

“We have a lot of patient coordinators,” said Dr. Paley. “They are writing lots of Visa letters to consulates, embassies. We have people in Washington trying to help. In the end, the only option sometimes is for me to do the surgery overseas.”

Dr. Paley said many procedures have moved to the Paley European Institute in Poland, where he travels to perform procedures.

“It is a loss to Florida,” he said. “It’s a loss to St. Mary’s Medical Center. It’s a loss to the Paley Insititute here.”

But, it’s allowed them to stay true to the mission at hand, helping patients abroad or here, like Baby “Q” from South Africa.

“We are still doing everything possible to help patients,” said Dr. Paley. “Obviously my preference is to bring them here. This is where I think I give the best care.”

Now, the hope on the horizon is seeing Baby “Q” run with his twin brother.

“That story of hope should be what always must be remembered about Q, and what the Paley Institute represents, and what they are doing for so many families,” said Nhlanhla.

“One way or another, we are going to find a way to help you,” said Dr. Paley. “We will do backward, triple flips to make sure we leave no stone unturned to help.”

For more information on Baby “Q,” click here.