Treatment Gives Family Hope for a Brighter Future

June 05, 2020

“I did not want my child’s condition to be the same barrier in life that is was for me. Every parent just wants a better life for their children.” 

Matinde, the son of farmers in the Kahama district of northern Tanzania, was born with bilateral clubfoot. He is the third person in his family, including his father and eldest sister, born with the condition. About 25% of cases are thought to have a genetic link.

Matinde’s father, Samson, did not receive treatment for his condition as a child since surgery—once preferred until the Ponseti method became the orthopedic standard in 2005—was prohibitively expensive and difficult to access. Samson’s family lived in a remote area more than 950 kilometers from Dar es Salaam, the closest city with orthopedic surgeons. At the time, affordable treatment was not an available option.

Tanzania: Two Generations, Different Possibilities

Living with the severe disability caused by untreated clubfoot, Samson was overjoyed when he learned there was a highly effective, non-invasive solution for Matinde near their home. At one month old, the family enrolled Matinde at a MiracleFeet-supported clinic providing free treatment 60 kilometers from their home. The clinic is run by MiracleFeet’s partner Tanzania Clubfoot Care Organization and is one of 34 sites MiracleFeet supports in a country with over 3,000 new cases each year.

Samson says living with the disability has limited his employment opportunities, and he and his family did not have the resources to pay for treatment, despite knowing how it would transform his son’s life and future.   

Matinde as a newborn, before treatment.

Can adults be treated?

While treatment for adults is possible, and the Ponseti method can still be initiated as a first step, it usually requires surgery (sometimes multiple) afterwards, and the prognosis is not as well-studied. Additionally, more complex cases typically require in-patient rehabilitation following surgery, which means Samson would be away from home and his family for an extended period of time. There are economic implications for parents receiving treatment, because the process takes many months and can mean lost employment during long periods of immobility.

When MiracleFeet partners meet adults, often as parents of patients, who live with clubfoot disability, they offer resources and consultations with orthopedic experts, if desired. Some have received treatment. Many have considered it, but worry their condition will not improve, that they might suffer more severe pain afterwards, or their families will experience more hardships in the process.

For now, Samson is thrilled that he was able to find treatment for his young son and that Matinde will be able to walk, run, and chase a bright future.

“My son has made so much progress and his feet are no longer disabled. We are filled with so much laughter and happiness.”