Mom with rare disability finally finds others who look like her

Mom Ella Glendining with rare leg disability shares joy in new documentary after finally finding others who look like her

    A mother with a disability so rare that it makes her ‘feel like a different species’ has finally achieved a lifelong goal of finding other people who just look like her.

    Ella Glendining was born with short thigh bones and no hip joints.  Her disability is so uncommon she cannot find any statistics about its prevalence. 

    The mom spent her whole life hoping to find people with a similar condition and has recorded her search in a new documentary on CBC. 

    ‘There is this missing piece of the puzzle in my life which is that I have never seen another being like me before,’ Glendining said.  ‘I do feel like a different species.’

    But now the writer and director has shared her joy after finally meeting up with people with similar conditions.

    Ella Glendining was born with malformation of her legs so rare she had never met anyone who looked like her

    The writer and filmmaker set out on a quest to find people with a similar disability to her and stumbled across a Facebook group for people with Proximal femoral focal deficiency, a complex birth defect that results in malformation of the thigh bone

    ‘I feel a little bit less alone in the world, which is very cool isn’t it?’ she said in a trailer for her documentary, ‘Is Anybody Out There?’

    The British-born filmmaker explained how she came to achieve her goal after stumbling upon a Facebook group for people with similar disabilities.

    She then flew to the US where she met up with other adults with Proximal femoral focal deficiency, a complex birth defect that results in malformation of the thigh bone.

    She also met up with Florida-based limb lengthening expert Dr. Dror Paley, for a consultation.

    ‘I want to find out what type I am, because then I will have a better chance of finding someone who looks exactly like me,’ she added.

    Glendining explained she decided to make the film as ‘a love letter to the disability community and its allies’.

    Shot over four years, the documentary charts her quest to find someone just like her, but also her journey into motherhood as Glendining found out she was pregnant during filming at the age of 26.

    ‘As well as being about disability and otherness, Is There Anybody Out There? is about becoming a mother. My own unexpected pregnancy and the birth of my son were documented right from the day I found out I was pregnant,’ she told CBC.

    British-born Glendining (right) flew to the US to meet some of the group members and said she finally feels like she is ‘not so alone in the world’

    The mom-of-one turned her experience searching for people who look like her into an award winning documentary called ‘Is Anybody Out There?’

    ‘Though on the surface these are two quite separate stories, they are inherently intertwined, and my body — this extraordinary body that grew and birthed my beloved son — is the bridge between them.’

    The campaigner said she hopes her film will, ‘humanize disabled people’.

    ‘I hope the non-disabled audience will question the way they think about and interact with disabled people, and be less ableist as a result,’ she added. 

    ‘And I want the documentary to be a beacon of light for disabled people who are angry and sad.

    ‘But this film is not just for disabled people. It is for anyone who’s ever been made to feel “other.”‘

    Glendining’s documentary has receive plaudits from the disabled community and beyond, scooping British Film Institute & Chanel Filmmaker Awards.

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