The First Steps in Treatment Journey for MiracleFeet’s 50,000th Patient

October 16, 2020

When Raes was born in Uganda in early September—with a severe birth defect, in the midst of a global pandemic—his mother, Robinah, was scared. She had never seen a child with a deformity like his.

The midwife at the hospital where Robinah delivered explained the condition to her, which calmed her anxiety some, but she was still worried —about perception, about pain the treatment might cause, and about finding and paying for care. Robinah’s midwife told her about MiracleFeet’s partner in Uganda, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services Uganda (CoRSU).

“Midwives have a lot of helpful information, so try to be as friendly to your midwife as possible, because they will advise you accordingly. I am a perfect example of someone who didn’t know about clubfoot and whether it could be corrected until a midwife pointed me in the right direction.”

Three weeks after giving birth, Robinah traveled to the CoRSU hospital to seek treatment for Raes. He became the 50,000th patient MiracleFeet’s partners have supported.

Robinah started the trip to the clinic on a bus, but it made too many stops to pick-up and drop off other passengers, so she disembarked and instead hoped on a boda boda (motor cycle taxi) that brought her directly to the entrance of the CoRSU hospital. “I was relieved that there is a place that can correct my son’s condition, but I was anxious throughout the trip to CoRSU,” she recalls. Photos by Edward Echwalu.
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“I asked myself so many questions during the journey: is my son really going to have his feet corrected? Will he be able to walk when he grows up? The one-hour trip seemed like minutes.”
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Raes is weighed before casting begins. Ideally, clubfoot treatment should begin within a week after birth, when the tendons and ligaments are at their most elastic; correction occurs most easily at this point.
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Until the past decade, most children born with clubfoot in low- and middle-income countries were not treated due to the complexity of surgery and limited access to safe services.
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When the non-surgical Ponseti Method became the orthopedic standard for treating clubfoot in 2005, a global movement was born. This method provides full mobility in 95% of cases.
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The method requires a series of casts to gently manipulate the feet, a simple outpatient procedure to release the Achilles tendon, and afterwards, a brace worn while sleeping at night to prevent relapse.
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In an external evaluation, 94% of guardians in Uganda interviewed report their children are "completely" to "somewhat" cured two years after treatment.
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On the same day as Raes’ treatment, CoRSU celebrated MiracleFeet’s milestone of reaching 50,000 children with treatment.
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When asked what she would want other parents to learn from her experience, Robinah answers, “when you give birth to a child with a disability such as clubfoot, I urge mothers not to fear. These children are normal like any other.” Photos by Edward Echwalu.
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Upon arrival, the CoRSU staff took Robinah and Raes’ temperatures as a COVID precaution before showing them inside to the registration desk. 927 children in Uganda have safely received treatment at 21 MiracleFeet-supported clinics since the start of the pandemic.

After registration, Raes was weighed and his feet were examined and photographed before casts were applied. Raes, who Robinah describes as a happy, calm baby who loves to eat and sleep, slept through most of the appointment, but woke up during casting.

On the same day as Raes’ treatment, CoRSU celebrated MiracleFeet’s milestone of reaching 50,000 children with treatment. The event was an opportunity to raise awareness about clubfoot and the clubfoot program in Uganda (a country with over 2,200 new cases per year).

When asked what she would want other parents to learn from her experience, she ponders before answering, “when you give birth to a child with a disability such as clubfoot, I urge mothers not to fear. These children are normal like any other.”

Even during a major health crisis, the system MiracleFeet and partners have created to reach children born with clubfoot is working. Mothers like Robinah, who have skilled care at birth, are increasingly more likely to receive immediate guidance on treating their child’s condition.

Every day worldwide, between 50 – 100 parents are referred to MiracleFeet’s partners—orthopedic and physiotherapy specialists working at 300+ clinics in 29 countries—where they find assurance, treatment, and a community of support.

“My dream is to see my son stand and play on his two feet,” said Robinah gazing at Raes.

Our very best wishes to Raes and his family. Thank you for being an important part of MiracleFeet’s story. We look forward to following your treatment journey.

Thousands are waiting.

COVID-19 interrupted treatment for over 9,000 children in the countries where MiracleFeet works. Your support helps more families receive the care their children urgently, as our local partners work to safely address the backlog.

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