Columbus, OH,
20:18 PM

Finger lengthening procedure enables young girl to play the violin and all kinds of other things

Gabriella McElwain, 13, Gabby for short, was born with no fingers on her right hand. She was unable to hold a pencil, a doll or a baseball, much less a violin. Today, after three surgical procedures over four years at OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital, she can not only pick up the violin, she can play it!

The surgeries were performed by Dr. Lawrence Lubbers, of Hand and Microsurgical Associates, for the past five years, the hand surgeon has worked with Gabriella to give her a thumb and fingers.

“It’s almost miraculous,” Lubbers said. “And pretty exciting, too.” Or, as Gabriella puts it, “It’s kinda cool."

In addition to the surgeries, Gabriella has endured many months of wearing stents and bulky bone-lengthening equipment to create a small thumb, ring finger and pinky.

Gabby, a resident of the Far North Side, was adopted from China by Kelly McElwain when she was 18 months old.

As Gabby grew, mom said she remembered her daughter’s disappointment in not missing out on activities that would have required fingers.

They decided to start the finger-lengthening process when she was nine.

To learn about how the process works and Gabby's progress, click on the Dispatch logo to read the full story by Columbus Dispatch reporter, JoAnne Viviano.