Operation will help Philippines girl walk normally

A young girl with feet so deformed they appear almost backward is hoping surgeons can transform her life.

Jingle Luis, 15, was born with such a severe case of clubfoot that her feet twist upside down and she has to use crutches to hobble on what should be their tops.

However, She was spotted by an American surgeon on a charity trip to the Philippines who has arranged for her to be treated in the US.

Jingle will have a series of operations and follow-up treatment that consists of slowly rotating her feet until she can walk normally.

“Generally speaking, with modern technology, it doesn’t get to this point,” said Dr Terry Amaral, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York.

Clubfoot is a relatively common deformity, occurring in about one in 1,000 births. Children are usually treated in infancy with casts or braces that gradually bring the feet into correct alignment. The condition becomes harder to treat if it is not corrected early on.

Dr Amaral said Jingle’s case was complicated by the fact that her clubfoot was associated with spina bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings.

He said doctors who saw Jingle as a baby thought that her spina bifida would shorten her lifespan and prevent her from walking, so they did not treat the clubfoot.

“They felt it wasn’t worth managing because of the life expectancy, so they decided to leave it alone,” Dr Amaral said.

But Jingle’s spina bifida is relatively mild and doctors have said that will stabilise her feet while the screws are turned bit by bit.

“Her bones are a little deformed, but most of it comes from the tight soft tissues in the inner part of her feet,” Dr Amaral said. He estimated that it would take a month to rotate the feet a few degrees at a time.

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