The following testimonials are stories of hope for babies born with clubfoot and for parents who dream of cheering them on at baseball games and dance recitals. This is a story of how a little known technique called the Ponseti Method is making these dreams come true.
Meet Richard and Amparo, from the Dominican Republic. When their local doctor recommended surgery to correct their son's bilateral clubfoot, they hesitated, thinking there must be a less traumatic option available. They turned to the Internet where they discovered a technique called the Ponseti Method. The method was a non-surgical technique developed by Spanish pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Ignacio Ponseti, MD, to correct clubfoot deformity. To their surprise, Dr. Ponseti, though in his late 80's, was living in Iowa, USA, and was still practicing medicine. The parents made contact and explained their situation asking for advice. The doctor replied and advised against surgery, recommending that they visit with a doctor who practiced the Ponseti Method. In particular, he recommended Dr. John Herzenberg.
At that time, no orthopedists in the Dominican Republic practiced this method. The only solution for Richard and Amparo was to find a way to get to the United States despite the great financial sacrifices this would require. Fortunately, Richard had family on the east coast and driving distance from Dr. Herzenberg's clinic. Family and relatives donated to the cause and in a few weeks, they were on a plane to their first consultation and Ponseti casting at Sinai Hospital.
Their first clinic visit was an end to this family’s search for a solution and a new beginning of hopes and dream for their child. When Herzenberg commented that, “it is my honor to be recommended by Dr. Ponseti,” they knew that they had journeyed to the right place.
Over the next weeks, Richard Jr.’s parents saw a dramatic difference in the position of their child’s feet. After a few weeks of casting, a tenotomy was performed and Richard was put in final casts for three more weeks. Once he was ready for shoes, the family was able to return to their home in the Dominican Republic.
Richard and Amparo feel fortunate to have discovered the Ponseti Method just in time to avoid surgery. Now, two years later, their son is walking and running just like any other child his age that was born with normal feet.
The family recently returned to Sinai Hospital for a two-year follow-up with Dr. Herzenberg. Richard Jr.’s feet are perfect. He has to wear his special shoes with the bar at night-time for another year, but there are no complaints. Richard is a very active toddler who loves to play and make his feet take him everywhere he wants to go.
A letter to Dr. Herzenberg
Dear Dr. Herzenberg,
Thank you for the medical care you have given our child.
When our baby was first diagnosed with severe bilateral clubfoot we were not sure about her future - we read articles with diverse medical opinions for treatment, and patients showing a huge range of results. We were worried that she would have a lifetime of pain, the inability to walk normally, and the stares that a physical deformity brings on.
But now, with your treatment using the Ponseti method, she has beautiful, flexible feet, with no pain. Today we watched our nine-month-old daughter Alexandra pull herself up to a standing position and attempt to take her first steps. At this early age she has begun to try to walk. Her first steps are especially meaningful for us, given her obstacles. Tonight, we put on her special shoes, read to her, and watched her fall asleep. We are proud parents, grateful to God for giving us this child and to you for giving her a quality of life where she can be happy and able to reach her full potential.
Again, we thank you.
Karen & Michael