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Broken Femur Surgery - Izzy's Injury and Recovery

Patient Story - Ortiz on Field 200w

After missing her school’s 2013 soccer season, Isabel “Izzy” Ortiz is ready for action and the start of the 2014 season. Just one week before the Humble High School Lady Wildcats’ district opener last January, the competitive center fullback broke her left femur (thighbone) during tournament play.

“When the girl on the other team got the ball, I ran really fast to get in front of her,” said Ortiz. “My right foot stepped on the back of her cleat. To keep from falling, I planted my left foot really hard and my leg popped. I just remember screaming at the top of my lungs.”

She also remembers the athletic trainers caring for her on the field and the arrival of the ambulance.

“The EMTs gave me medication for pain, but it didn’t help,” said Ortiz. “I was in so much pain I thought I was going to pass out.”

Little did Ortiz know that while en route to Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, her school’s athletic trainer had called Wasyl W. Fedoriw, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician affiliated with the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, so he could meet her there. Memorial Hermann is the official healthcare provider for Humble ISD Athletics. For this seasoned soccer player, assist was about to take on a whole new meaning.

“This was a very unusual injury for a soccer player,” said Dr. Fedoriw. “We generally see a broken femur in football an automobile accident.”

When Dr. Fedoriw delivered the news of the fracture to Ortiz and her family, the 5-foot-4-inch brunette, who has played soccer since age 9, was devastated to learn she was out for the season.

Scott East, Ortiz’s coach said, “Izzy is a tough little cookie. I was with her on the field while they were tending to her, but I didn’t see her cry until she found out she wasn’t going to play for the season.”

“Izzy is a tough little cookie. I was with her on the field while they were tending to her, but I didn’t see her cry until she found out she wasn’t going to play for the season.”

Repairing the Fracture

Dr. Fedoriw described to Ortiz and her family the surgical procedure that would insert a titanium rod through the middle of her femur. When her parents asked about other options, he gently explained that their daughter could continue wearing a splint and be placed into traction, but that the rod promised her the best outcome.

“Dr. Fedoriw was very thorough in explaining the options to me and my parents,” said Ortiz. “I didn’t want to miss too much school, so I chose the rod.”

After her surgery at Memorial Hermann Northeast, Ortiz used crutches and a walker to get around for the next six weeks. No cast was needed.

“You would expect me to have a big incision,” said Ortiz, obviously delighted with the cosmetic outcome of her surgery. “I just have three tiny incisions about an inch to an inch-and-a-half each.”

“Female patients are always impressed with the small incisions,” said Dr. Fedoriw, explaining that the rod placement is accomplished through a standard technique. “We insert the rod through the tip of the femur. Once we confirm that the rod has stabilized the fracture, we put screws in each end to secure it.”

Making a Gritty Comeback

“I told Izzy she’d have a superwoman leg after all this was done."

Initially, Ortiz didn’t know when she would return to play. As it turned out, she progressed so rapidly she was only under Dr. Fedoriw’s care for five months. Of course, it didn’t hurt that she fought with fierce determination to make a comeback.

Ortiz worked daily with Humble High School athletic trainer Amy Walker. Rehabilitation focused on quad strengthening and regaining overall muscle strength in the leg.

“I told Izzy she’d have a superwoman leg after all this was done,” said Walker.

Now in her junior year, Ortiz still does daily leg- strengthening exercises. The 16-year-old is also running to prepare for her third season with the Lady Wildcats.

“I feel so much better now,” said Ortiz, who will serve as team captain this year. “I’m so happy I’m able to walk again. I’m definitely playing this year.”

Then joking about her metal leg and what it might do if a competitor kicks it, she adds, “You can’t take this one down.”