My name is Maggie Manning and I was born with severe bilateral developmental dysplasia of the hips (DDH). When I was born, my hips were not located in their hip sockets and were unfortunately missed during routine exam.

At two years old, my parents noticed that I did not walk very much and when I did, it was significantly different from other children. After constant months of being told by doctors that it was ‘nothing,’ it was not until I was almost three years old that I received a hip x ray. We got a call that night from the off-duty doctor and were told there was an abnormality. We were sent to BC Children’s hospital where my family would finally receive a diagnosis of DDH.

Between the ages of three and five, I had five reconstructive hip surgeries that left me immobilized in body casts called hip spicas. As a family, we had to learn to adapt to a new lifestyle whilst finding new and unique approaches for daily tasks. At five, I began to relearn how to walk and run.

At the age of 10, an MRI showed my hips were deteriorating and would require further surgical inventions. I underwent two more surgeries which then resulted in a five-centimetre leg length difference due to surgical complications. Then, I underwent an additional three surgeries to correct my leg length difference. However, I suffered nerve damage resulting in a foot drop that is currently managed with an ankle foot orthosis. In the future, I will require a few more surgeries as a young adult, and total hip replacements in my thirties.

Although going through ten surgeries and managing a permanent disability can be overwhelming at times, it has shaped the person I am today. It has given me character, and many unique opportunities and experiences. One of the greatest opportunities I have been granted is the chance to compete in Paralympic Swimming and to represent Canada on the world stage. Swimming has given me a way to be just as fast and capable as my able-bodied competitors. When I’m in the water, my disability doesn’t limit me.

I plan to go into the medical field, where I will have the opportunity to give back and pass on the exceptional care I have received. I also plan to continue advocating for improved accessibility and inclusion of people with a disability, leaving a lasting impact on the world. As for now, I plan to live life to the fullest everyday.