As told by Denise Salmeri (Kimberly’s Mother)
Read Kim's tribute to Dr. Gelb
Kimberly was born with benign spinal cord tumors, so we’ve been coming to University of Maryland Medical Center since she was 11 ½ weeks old. She had two surgeries at the Medical Center to remove the tumors — the first when she was 2 ½ months old; the second one two weeks later. In November of 2003, she had a scoliosis fusion operation at the Medical Center when she was 11 ½ years old.
Since having the spinal tumors removed, she developed scoliosis. She had weakness in her right hip and left shoulder and had a pelvic twist, which caused the scoliosis. Due to the scoliosis, the nerves in her spine were being pressed.
When Kimberly was 10 years old, she started having symptoms from the scoliosis, such as shortness of breath, tingling and loss of sensation. We wanted to wait for the scoliosis fusion till she was 13 for maximum growth potential, but we couldn’t wait anymore.
We had been seeing several physicians, but since her case was so complex we had to find a major medical center. We were given the names of some renowned surgeons, including Dr. [Steven] Ludwig [who is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and co-director of the University of Maryland Spine Program]. Dr. Ludwig referred us to his colleague [and UM Spine Program co-director] Dr. [Daniel] Gelb. We felt confident with Dr. Gelb; he came highly recommended.
Dr. Gelb, [who is also an assistant professor of orthopaedics at the UM School of Medicine], told us he felt confident he could do the surgery. Kimberly had the scoliosis fusion operation on November 3, 2003, when she was 11 ½ years old.
Kimberly’s surgery went well. She was in the hospital for a week and had a physical therapist in the hospital. When she came home, a physical therapist came to the house and then she went to an outside facility.
Once her spine was straightened, the pressure was taken off the nerves and some neurological problems were fixed.
Kimberly is doing much better now, and she’s more stable. Her breathing problems went away instantaneously. She’s done wonderfully. We are hopeful that’s she’s done with surgeries. She still has routine physical therapy through the physical education program at school.
The care at the University of Maryland Medical Center was great, including the nursing staff. Dr. Gelb is very nice; Kimberly loves him. We thought he was wonderful, very personable and easy going. He made us feel comfortable. I would definitely recommend the University of Maryland. Our experience there 12 years ago was incredible and we were very happy to be back.
By Kim Salmeri
Editor’s Note: This is a paper Kim wrote about Dr. Gelb in January of 2005 for her language arts class.
I have a lot of doctors but my favorite is Dr. Gelb. Dr. Gelb is my “Back Doctor.” He operated on my back November 3rd, 2003. This surgery took 6 hours; however they were not as long as my last two surgeries. Dr. Gelb put three rods and eleven screws in my back. This was a very complicated surgery but Dr. Gelb was willing to do it.
Dr. Gelb has reddish/brown hair and is average height. He is the kind of person that would push you to do something. For example, when I had to learn how to walk again he said, “You can do it. Just work hard,” and I did. He was so proud when I walked across the room. I still remember how relieved I felt when I took that first step. I felt off balance at first but I got used to it after a while. He also said that there would be other things in the future that I will want to do but cannot do for a while.
Dr. Gelb has a deep, soft but solid voice. When he talks he speaks strong but deep in a nice and generous way. When he starts to talk I start to get a little nervous because I don’t want whatever he is going to say to be bad. After he finishes talking he tells my parents and me how wonderful I am doing and to keep up the good work.
My favorite doctor is Dr. Gelb. He was my favorite doctor because he told me what was going on and explained what I should and should not do. Also, he would let me give my opinion and what I think we should do. Dr. Gelb was also funny. For example, when I was in the hospital he hit his head on the T.V. and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “HAHAHAHA….HAHAHAAA…” Everyone in the room started to laugh.
Now I know why I worked so hard during and after surgery and from then on. It was for my favorite doctor (Dr. Gelb) -- to show that he had done a great job and I had done a great job with the recovery and afterwards.