Community rallies around Arizona girl who is set to undergo surgery for rare disease in Baltimore

A 10-year-old girl from the Phoenix area is now in Maryland, where she will undergo a life changing operation on Feb. 2.

On Feb. 1, Riley Saver and her family boarded a private jet, at the start of their trip to a Baltimore hospital for the emergency surgery.

Multiple non-profits, including the Armer Foundation for Kids and Wings of Humanity, worked together to make the flight possible.

"It's amazing. It's huge. I'm so grateful. Not a chance could I do this on my own," said Riley's Mother, Meredith Stam.

Riley's story began in 2021, when she began to have extreme pain in her leg. She was eventually diagnosed with Perthes Disease.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine's website, Perthes Disease, also known as Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, is a rare hip condition that affects children less than 10 years of age, where blood supply to the head of the femur is interrupted. This weakens the bone, and can lead to multiple fractures. The bone is then taken up by the body, which can lead to the complete collapse of the femoral head.

"The blood supply does eventually return and the bone will re-form," the website states. "However, the bone may re-form with a different shape than it had before. Because of this, degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) can develop later in life."

The cause is unknown, according to the website.

Officials with the organizations say they are happy that they could help in this way.

"This little girl has not thought about her surgery because all she is excited to be flying on a jet," said Jennifer Armer with the Armer Foundation for Kids.

"Our motto is 'saving child's lives, one flight at a time,' but when we're able to make a day like this happen, it affects the entire family community, so it's heartwarming to see this" said Stan Strom with Wings of Humanity.

The hope is with this next surgery, Riley's quality of life will be much better.

"It makes me feel loved," said Riley. "I'm so grateful for everyone."

"I'm just praying she's out of pain, so hopefully the surgery will do that," said Meredith.

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