North Texas woman overcomes rare birth defect to graduate med school

A North Texas woman overcame a rare birth defect and is now about to finish med school at UNT Health Science Center.

Taylor Orcutt was born with a left arm that ends at her elbow, but she refused to let anything stop her from her dream of becoming a pediatrician. She is headed to Wisconsin, where she'll begin a dual residency in pediatrics and internal medicine.

Her graduation from Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine is a combination of hard work and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Orcutt is living her best life, as she’s about to become the first person in her family to become a physician. Her journey is a unique one.

"My arm just didn't grow. It just stopped right here. They didn't have to do any surgeries," Orcutt explained.

She has what's called a birth malformation. Her left arm stopped growing at the elbow.

"They found it on an ultrasound and told my parents, but they were like, ‘Oh, that's fine. As long as she's still healthy,’" Orcutt said.

She tried using prosthetics as a child, but quickly learned she was better without them.

"To me, this was just my normal. As kids were learning to tie their shoes, I was learning to tie my shoes the same way, it just took a little longer," she recalled.

Orcutt said her frequent visits to Scottish Rite as a child developed her desire to become a pediatrician. She wants to work with kids with disabilities.

"It’s something I had to work on growing up. You always want to be seen as normal as everyone else, but then you get to this point where you realize other people are looking up to you," Orcutt said.

Including the parents of kids with special needs.

"For the parents as well. Seeing that you can be successful and still do everything you want to do is reassuring to them," she said.

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Orcutt credits her classmates and the faculty at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine with helping her succeed in a program that, by design, is already grueling.

"They actually 3D-printed me something to put on the pen light, where you can put the tongue depressor into it and do both with one hand. The faculty has been very supportive," she said.

Her graduation is Wednesday, May 25, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. Then, she’ll be off to the next chapter.

For Orcutt and her husband, the snow will be one of the biggest challenges in Wisconsin.

Their two dogs, Ares and Apollo, will no doubt love it.

Adding to the stress of finishing medical school, Orcutt said she and her husband are buying their first house in Milwaukee. They got outbid on five homes and finally got one just weeks before the move.