Jamestown woman receives Hope Award from Shriners hospitalA list of Lexus Haut’s high school achievements reads like that of any particularly involved recent graduate — tennis, golf, track, cheerleading, student council, volunteering with kindergarteners, piano, trombone, French horn, Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
A list of Lexus Haut’s high school achievements reads like that of any particularly involved recent graduate — tennis, golf, track, cheerleading, student council, volunteering with kindergarteners, piano, trombone, French horn, Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society.
Unlike her classmates, though, Lexus was born with acute syndactyly, a condition in which fingers are fused together.
Normally the webbing between fingers dissolves during fetal development, but in some cases that doesn’t happen. Syndactyly can be inherited, but it can also occur independently.
“I was born this way,” Lexus said, describing what she tells people who ask her about her hands.
It was almost like she was born with mittens, said her father, Roger Haut.
Pictures of Lexus as a baby show her with a lot of soft light brown hair, a big grin and hands with short fingers bound together by skin.
Roger and his wife, Margo, were understandably upset. Margo didn’t sleep a wink that first night and both of them wondered what they had done wrong as parents.
When Lexus was 2 months old, Margo saw a billboard for Shriners Hospitals for Children. When Lexus turned 3 months old, she and her parents met with Ann VanHeest, a surgeon at the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Twin Cities.
They decided to do a staged reconstruction of Lexus’ hands, using skin from the bikini line and the elbow line to fill in the gaps between fingers.
It took 18 months, 14 trips to the hospital and four eight-hour surgeries, and after each one Lexus was sent home with a 4-pound cast that went up past her elbow. As it turned out, toting around a massive cast didn’t slow Lexus down.
Her newly-opened-up fingers reached to the first knuckle.
Cautious doctors warned Roger and Margo not to expect too much — because their daughter’s fingers were so short, she might not be able to grasp objects very well. She went back to the Shriners Hospital every year for checkups and X-rays, making sure her skin and bone were growing correctly.
But it became apparent quickly that Lexus had her own ideas about what she could do, and letting anything stop her was not in the cards.
Lexus, who recently graduated second in her class from Mott-Regent High School with a 3.8 GPA, is doing just fine. She intends to study for a degree in petroleum engineering at the University of North Dakota. She’s especially looking forward to going to hockey games at UND and joining the school’s coloring book club.
A lot of people don’t even notice her hands are different, Lexus said. And when they do, the first reaction is usually to ask about it, not to tease or mock.
When she turned 18, Lexus received a certificate from the Shriners Hospital, saying she’d completed treatment. In recognition of her positive attitude, contributions to her community and for overcoming challenges, she was also one of three patients to receive the Rainbow of Hope Award from the Shriners.
There were 22 applicants for the award, which includes a $1,000 monetary prize. Lexus was presented with the award in May.
The Hauts are extremely grateful to the Shriners for everything they’ve done for Lexus.
“I don’t know where I would be without them,” she said.
Over the years, the Hauts have referred 17 other families to the Shriners Hospital for help.
“There’s hope, and it’ll be just fine,” Lexus said, when asked what she’d advise another person with syndactyly, adding they shouldn’t let anything stop them, either.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can
be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at