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Unique surgery helps girl with handicap

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She continues to amaze her family and doctors with the progress she makes. Before Caroline Chupp was born, an ultra-sound alerted her parents about complications.

"She had a bumpy start, but she's made the most of it," Jesse Chupp said shortly after he pushed Caroline in her stroller into the clinic.

Chupp has made the drive to Dell Children's Medical Center many times from College Station. When his daughter was born, he and his wife, Sarah, spent nearly a month in Austin. Caroline was connected to machines and in and out of surgery and procedures.

"Then Dr. Henry showed up and it seemed like a long way off to worry about a cosmetic issue," Chupp explained.

Caroline had nothing in place of a thumb on her left hand. It's the most severe form of underdevelopment according to plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Henry. He's with the Seton Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and met the Chupps just days after Caroline came to Dell Children's for the first time.

"They say the thumb constitutes about 40 percent of your hand function and without a thumb she would be operating at about 60 percent function," Dr. Henry explained.

Caroline would use her fingers to pinch at different things she wanted to pick up which Dr. Henry says was a good sign she would do well after surgery. On her first birthday, Dr. Henry would take Caroline into the operating room for a life changing gift.

"We shortened her index finger and moved it to where her thumb should be so she can grab objects," Henry said.

Caroline sailed through surgery and because of her age doesn't require a lot of rehabilitation. Dr. Henry sent her home the same day she had her operation.

Caroline's big brothers, James and Jack, along with her parents work with her each day at home to grab things and strengthen her muscles.

"You have to look twice to notice that there is anything different," Dr. Henry said.

"They've given her the chance to live I think a very close to normal life after facing these challenges. She's a happy child and we feel blessed with the progress she's made," Caroline's father said.

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