Treating Generations

A Tribute to Dr. Roye: The Papa Family

January 24, 2020
Jennifer Papa (mother), Dr. David Roye, and Olivia Papa (daughter).
Jennifer Papa (mother), Dr. David Roye, and Olivia Papa (daughter).

The story begins when Jennifer, a 16 year old and a junior in high school, was diagnosed with scoliosis. She was living in Fairfield county at the time, and her mother told the local primary care doctor that she had very specific criteria for choosing a spine surgeon for her daughter: “I don’t care about anything accept that they must be a humanitarian. I don’t want a doctor, I want a human being.” Dr. David Roye, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital was the obvious choice for both Jennifer’s mom, and her primary care doctor. “Dr. Roye let me choose my date and I saw him 3 months later. I have continued to adore him ever since,” said Jennifer. 

Olivia wears her leotard and dance costume proudly as she shows off her surgery scar.
Olivia wears her leotard and dance costume proudly as she shows off her surgery scar.

Little did teenage Jennifer know that she would be seeing Dr. Roye many years later, with her own children. Her son saw Dr. Roye when he was two years old for spastic cerebral palsy, and her daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis at four years old by Dr. Roye. Oliva, Jennifer’s daughter, went through multiple braces and therapies over the years after her initial diagnosis. An avid dancer, she continued to pursue her passion throughout her years living with scoliosis – despite the pain and challenges. 

In 2018, Olivia Papa was 16 years old and her spinal curvature had progressed to the point where surgery would be required. And so, she would have the same surgery, at the same age, by the same surgeon as her mother. Six weeks after Dr. Roye performed Olivia's spinal reconstructive surgery she was back to dancing. She still competes locally with her dance studio and will perform a solo piece to the Michael Bublé song “I am feeling good” this year, which is only fitting post-surgery. Though she still has some pain, “the new pain is something I am working through now, Dr. Roye wants me to keep dancing and told me that he is glad I am still dancing, and I am so grateful that he is mindful of how important dance is to me,” said Olivia.

Dr. Roye shows off his dance moves with Jennifer and Olivia.
Dr. Roye shows off his dance moves with Jennifer and Olivia.

Jennifer’s husband also had scoliosis and a spinal fusion when he was 15 years old and has been amazed by how much Jennifer and Olivia have adored their doctor. When asked to describe Dr. Roye, Jennifer commented that “his high caliber of humanity is astounding and we just love him,” and for Olivia, “he wasn’t seeing a patient with a crooked spine he was seeing me.” This humanization of complex pediatric orthopedic care, and recognition of each patient's unique needs and goals have been the hallmark of Dr. Roye's practice for over 40 years. 

Olivia continues to dance and has future aspirations after finishing high school that have been heavy influenced by her care. “Dr. Roye has always been a great educator. I never felt like a patient, but that he truly cared about me. He is very inspiring and because of him, I want to go into the medical field and offer the same support and care that everyone should have." 

In honor of his upcoming retirement, the Papa family dedicates the following words:

Wishing for you Dr. Roye and the rest of your wonderful life, to reap the same rewards that you have bestowed on countless children and families in the course of your career. We have no doubt you have graced thousands of lives and now may those blessings come back to you abundantly with hopes, dreams, and aspirations for yourself to be fulfilled.

Love the Papa Family