Margarida Bahia Chagas was born with brittle bone disease, a rare condition that causes debilitating pain and frequent broken bones. After breaking her hip, Margarida spent several months recuperating at Broadway House for Continuing Care. This faith-filled community volunteer says, “Everybody at Broadway House…I thank God for their lives.”
There is no cure for brittle bone disease, medically known as osteogenesis imperfecta. As she grew up in Brazil—the ninth of 12 children—Margarida experienced stunted growth and frequent breaks. The condition is so rare that her doctor at Broadway House, Lauro L. Rocha, DNP, APN-BC, knows of just one other case. Dr. Lauro notes, “Most doctors will never see a case like this.”
By the time Margarida joined family in the United States, one of her legs had been broken more than 25 times. She has undergone several serious surgeries, including one to strengthen her spine and a 12-hour procedure to rebuild her leg after it shattered in multiple places. Last October, Margarida’s hip broke as she was getting dressed. Doctors recommended that she be admitted to Broadway House to keep her hip immobilized as it healed.
Despite her lifelong illness, Margarida has an infectious positive attitude that enriches the lives of those around her. Before her discharge from Broadway House on Feb. 2, she knitted scarves and hats for her fellow residents, as well as staff members. In the local community, Margarida is a member of Assembly of God Church, where she counsels and visits fellow congregants. She also volunteers at University Hospital helping immigrants to navigate the healthcare system, and creates crafts to welcome arrivals from Brazil through Mantena Global Care, a Newark nonprofit. Once she’s fully settled at home, Margarida has even offered to teach arts and crafts at Broadway House.
Margarida draws her positivity from her deep faith: “It is God. It comes from my relationship with Jesus Christ—I have always been a believer. My disease does not define me. It is my relationship with Christ that does.”