Mum’s joy as daughter with club foot gets her first shoes

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A Yorkshire mum was over joyed to see her nine-and-a-half-month old girl get her first pair of shoes despite being born with talipes of her left foot.

Little Angel-Leigh McArthur, from Rotherham, was diagnosed with the problem at the routine twenty-week scan, Mum Jade Ellerby, from Kimberworth Park, Rotherham, explains:

“Going for our twenty-week scan was a huge moment for me and Gareth as we were going to find out the sex of the baby. We’d lost our daughter, my first born, Alexia-Leigh, to Meningitis in 2013 when she was just four-years-old.”

Alexia-Leigh was taken ill, diagnosed with Leukaemia and died just eleven days later when she contracted meningitis. The family were utterly devastated. Through their grief Jade and Gareth, supported by family and friends started to fundraise for The Children’s Hospital Charity to give something back to Sheffield Children’s Hospital where Alexia was cared for. Since 2013 they have raised £27,663.12 to date.

“When we lost Alexia-Leigh I said to Gareth that I definitely didn’t want any more children but I woke up one morning realising that I had all this love to give and no one to give it to, so we decided to try for a baby.

“The first scan showed that everything was as it should be and we couldn’t wait for the twenty-week scan so find out if we were having a girl or a boy.

“We were over the moon to find out we were having a girl, our little Angel, but the scan also showed that there was a problem with her left foot. The doctors weren’t sure at that stage if this issue was something that could be massaged out.”

Talipes is a condition that can affect one or both of a baby’s feet from birth and is most cases, the front half of the foot turns inwards and downwards. It is also known as club foot.

Over the last decade the Ponseti method has become the treatment of choice for almost all club feet. This highly successful treatment begins when a baby is a few days old.

The foot is manipulated and stretched to improve the foot position – this position is held in a plaster cast that goes above the knee.

The cast is changed weekly, with a bit more stretching and manipulating each time, and the foot position improves steadily over four to six weeks.

In many cases the final part of the correction is a procedure called a tenotomy in which the tendon at the back of the heel is released via a tiny cut.

This is often done under a local anaesthetic in the clinic and doesn’t really upset the baby. In older babies, a general anaesthetic may be used.

After the procedure another plaster cast is put on for three weeks to let the tendon heal.

Once the foot has been corrected, the new position must be maintained with a splint. This is known as the ‘boots and bars’.

Initially this is for most of the day but as the child starts walking the splint is only used ‘at night time and at nap time’.

“Angel-Leigh was put in pots from being a tiny baby and has had to have the tendons to the back of her foot cut to straighten it. She has had to wear boot and bars for three months and we wondered if this would all delay her ability to walk.

“Then at nine and a half months she just stood up and walked. She is such a little girl and looks too tiny to be walking but she is sturdy on her feet and so determined. Now she just has to wear the boot and bars at night – she never moans or fusses when we put them on, she just gets on with it,” added Jade.

When local shopping outlet Lakeside Village in Doncaster heard about Angel and everything she had been through, they arranged via the Clarks store to have Angel fitted for her first pair of shoes.

Lyndsey Parry, deputy centre manager at Doncaster’s Lakeside Village, said: “Angel-Leigh’s story is amazing, she has overcome so much at such a young age and to be walking at nine and a half months old, despite what she has been through is amazing.

“We were thrilled to meet her and her family and to give her the gift of her first pair of shoes.”

Angel-Leigh visited Lakeside Village, with her mum, dad, nan, grandad, half sister Kensie and cousin Lacie. She proudly walked in her new shiny black patent shoes which flashed red lights as she took her steps.

“Everyone has been fantastic with Angel and our huge thanks go out to everyone at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who has looked after Angel-Leigh’s care and to the team at Lakeside Village for this lovely gift.

“We are now looking forward to seeing Angel-Leigh get more confident on her feet and for her feet to grow stronger and stronger,” said dad Gareth.

Cheryl Davidson, community fundraiser at The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Jade and Gaz are inspirational in their commitment to helping other children through their fundraising. Their money will go to leukaemia research at our hospital, giving other children the best chance at a happy and healthy life. We are delighted that Angel and the family have been able to enjoy this moment thanks to Lakeside.”