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Medicine X spotlights a father’s quest to help his daughter

The annual Medicine X symposium included presentations from researchers, patients, providers, designers, technologists and policy leaders.

Lorelei and Bodo Hoenen speak at the annual Stanford Medicine X conference.
Courtesy of Stanford Medicine X

With her father beside her whispering encouragement, Lorelei Hoenen, a 6-year-old with a blonde ponytail, looked out across the silent crowd at Stanford Medicine X on Sept. 15. “Last year, I got very sick,” she said.

She had been struck by acute flaccid myelitis, a rare polio-like illness. She got better, but her left arm remained paralyzed. Bodo Hoenen, her father, set out to create a mechanical assistive arm for his daughter. By posting videos of Lorelei's story, family members enlisted the help of experts across the world, and published their efforts online to help other families.

To everyone’s surprise, Lorelei eventually recovered the use of her arm. But Bodo said the time spent working on the robotic arm wasn’t wasted. “It provided us tangible hope,” he said.

More stories from the conference, which focused on patient-centered medicine and emerging health care technology, are available online.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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