Family and friends are mourning the death of Brooke Megan Greenberg, 20, of Reisterstown, who died of bronchial malacia on Oct. 24. Brooke, daughter of Melanie and Howard Greenberg and sister of Emily, Caitlin and Carly Greenberg, lived with an extremely rare condition that kept her approximately the size and developmental age of a 9-month-old infant. Although she was born a month early and required surgery for an anterior hip dislocation, the Greenbergs assumed she would develop normally. They became concerned, however, when they noticed that Brooke’s younger sister was achieving milestones that Brooke had failed to reach. That was when they began their search for answers.
The Greenbergs consulted with medical experts and geneticists from institutions such as Johns Hopkins Medicine and Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, but no one was able to explain why Brooke stopped growing by age 5. Confounded, doctors, who believe Brooke’s condition may hold the key to understanding aging and age-related diseases, termed Brooke’s condition Syndrome X.
A medical miracle for many, those who knew Brooke loved her just as she was, said father Howard.
“If you had told me someone could give Brooke a pill to ‘fix her,’ I’d say, ‘Back off. She’s not broken.’ She was happy, and she had a wonderful life,” he said. “She was a bas mitzvah, she went to school, she napped when she wanted to, ate when she wanted to.”
“One thing I have realized in the last couple of days, talking to people and listening to rabbis speak, is that no one who came into contact with Brooke ever forgot her,” he added. “She touched so many people. She was the nucleus of our family, bringing everyone together. She brought compassion, and she reminded us what was really important. Brooke was pure love.”
Donations in Brooke Greenberg’s
memory may be made to
c/o LifeBridge Health
Department of Development
Designate: The Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital
2401 W. Belvedere Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21215
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
7401 Park Heights Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21208
Simone Ellin is JT senior features reporter