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Just hours after Jonathon was born a pediatrician informed his family that he would never walk because of his club feet.

“I asked the doctor to leave immediately,” Jonathon’s mom Krystle remembers. “I already knew I was taking my baby to the Greenville Shriners Hospital. Now at 2 years old, my son doesn’t just walk, he runs and can even skate!”

Clubfoot is a one of the most common birth defects seen in the lower extremity. It is characterized by the foot being turned to the side.

At age 3 weeks, Jonathon had his first appointment at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville where he received his first set of casts.

“In walked a gentleman with a U.S. Army surgical cap and introduced himself as Dr. Gibson,” Krystle explains. “Little did I know he should have introduced himself as an angel. He began to explain the process of casting to correct club feet.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville’s physicians are trained in the nonoperative treatment of clubfoot called the Ponseti method. The method includes gentle massage and maneuvering of the foot to stretch the tight or shortened structures slowly into a good position. A long leg cast then holds the foot in place for about a week. During this time, the muscles and ligaments stretch enough to allow a little more correction in the foot’s position. The cast is taken off and the foot is again massaged or stretched and moved into a more correct position. A cast is then reapplied.

After four weeks of casting, Jonathon had a minimal surgical procedure to lengthen the heel cord tendon. A final set of casts was left in place for three weeks.

The next step in Jonathon’s treatment involved wearing a pair of Denis Browne bar shoes for three months straight, and then only at night until he was 4 years old. Unfortunately, Jon couldn’t wear the shoes because they were uncomfortable and he would always take them off. 

“At just over 1, Jon walked for the first time,” Krystle says. “However, when he was barefoot, he would still walk on the side of his feet. X-rays revealed further deformities in his feet and Dr. Gibson told me only surgery would allow Jon to walk 100 percent normal.”

A few weeks later, Jonathon had surgery on both feet and was placed in casts.

“I cried as they removed his casts,” Krystle recalls. “I never thought I would see my son’s feet so straight.”

Krystle is very thankful for the experience at the Greenville Shriners Hospital.

“When people ask me about my experience, I just smile with tears in my eyes and say, ‘you will never fully understand unless you experience it yourself’,” Krystle says. “When the nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers are tending to you and your family, they make you feel like you are the only people that matter. It is like heaven on Earth. Everyone there is an angel that has been sent here to help these children that need them the most.”

Meet some of our other special patients.