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City, school call awareness to bone disease

The plight of a Clackamas River Elementary School student is prompting the city of Estacada to proclaim May 6 as Community OI Awareness Day.

OI stands for Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder that can cause brittle bones.

Bryten Figgins is familiar with it, as she has a rare and severe case of OI.

Figgins, 10, has lived in Estacada since birth. Because of her condition, she suffered more than 500 bone fractures before reaching the age of 5.

“We noticed it at birth,” her mother, Teryl Figgins, said. “She was born with borken arms and legs, eight vertebrae, her jaw and her ribs broken.”

Teryl said the OI has only affected her daughter more adversely the older she gets.

“The longer her bones get, the more bone there is to break,” she said.

An estimated 20,000-50,000 people worldwide are known to have OI. Some of the people who have it will suffer just one or two fractures in their entire lifetimes. On the other end of the spectrum are those who die at birth or in the first year because of it.

Many people with OI see a decrease in the number of broken bones between ages 15-25, but the fracture rate increases around 30 and worsens with age.

There is no cure for OI.

Bryten started taking medication at the tender age of 3 weeks old and still receives experimental treatments every eight weeks.

Despite the challenges, Bryten lives as normal of a life as circumstances allow. And the community has been very accommodating.

“The school has been amazing at adapting P.E. so she can play all the games they play,” Teryl Figgins said. “As long as it’s non-contact, she does great. It’s been wonderful. Estacada as a community has been amazing.”

Bryten enjoys fishing at the Lake Merwin Derby. She spends her summers at Camp Attitude, a family camp for children with disabilities, and also loves the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Aquarium and the zoo. The Figgins family also makes it a point to take Teryl to Disneyland once a year.

To commemorate OI Awareness Day, Clackamas River Elementary School is planning to ask students and staff to wear yellow on May 6.

“Cities around the world are going to recognize May 6 as well as May 4-11 as OI Awareness Week,” Teryl Figgins said.

The council is set to make an OI proclamation at its April 22 meeting.

For more information on OI, visit www.oif.org.



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