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Child Born With Rare Bone Disorder Living Life One Baby Step At A Time
By Scott Burke

A child's first step is always a thrill for parents. But when Megan Price took her first steps a few weeks ago, her parents, Richard and LaNeil, thought it was nothing short of a miracle.

"I always hoped she would walk, but deep down inside I wondered if she ever would," said Mrs. Price.

The odds were against the 18-month-old, who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare genetic disorder. Doctors told the Prices that she would probably never sit up, let alone walk.

OI patients' bones don't produce enough collagen, a protein that gives the bones strength and structure. Since birth, Megan has suffered 23 fractures.

But on the sidewalk in front of the Price home on Chapman Road, Megan--with the aid of a tiny walker--put one foot in front of the other and moved forward.

The spectacle soon attracted an audience, as neighbors rushed outside to see the toddler's feat.

"They were all coming down the street," said Mrs. Price. "They were clapping and then she would stop and clap for herself."

Megan's story touched the Naval Academy Class of 1986 long before then.

It "adopted" her as an honorary daughter last year and will raise money for "Megan's Voice" a non-profit group created by the Prices to help other OI patients, at its 15th reunion golf tournament next month.

"She is such a courageous little girl," said reunion organizer and former class president Dan White, a Severna Park resident. Mr. Price is also a member of the 1986 class.

"It was a no-brainer. We brought it up with other classmates, and they said 'Of course'," he said.

Registration for the 9 a.m. October 12 tee time at Patuxent Greens Golf Course in Laurel is still open. The cost of $100. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, as well as the first to hit a hole in one.

There will also be a raffle with one of the prizes being an original script of the movie "Romancing the Stone" signed by actor Michael Douglas.

Mrs. Price said she is grateful for the class' help. She began "Megan's Voice" to help other families struggling financially to care for an OI patient.

The Prices know how devastating--financially and emotionally--it can be.

Megan has had two surgeries where doctors implemented titanium expandable rods in her femurs.

And since she was born, the Prices have been taking her to Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal, Canada, every eight weeks for an experimental drug called pamidronate which increases bone density.

The Federal Drug Administration has not approved the use of the drug on OI patients in the United States, but Shriners Hospital of Chicago recently began conducting a study of the drug's effects of its own and the Prices flew there for the first time yesterday.

Mrs. Price attributes the surgery and the drug to her daughter's walking.

Yet, even with the surgeries and the successful drug treatments, Mrs. Price and Megan's bones remain quite fragile.

"Our fears have eased since the surgery, but it's still more stressful than normal. We have to watch her constantly. If she sits down wrong, she could compress her spine," she said.