Helping Children with Limb Disabilities: No matter where they live in the world, children with limb disabilities experience struggles that many of us never have to face. Without treatment, a child with missing arms or legs, or a child who can’t use their arms or legs normally, could face a lifetime of missed opportunities: he or she may never attend school, find a job, or lead a self-sufficient life.
Access to orthopedic care can dramatically improve the life of a child with a limb disability. Being fitted for a prosthetic limb, orthotic brace, or undergoing corrective surgery gives a child who was once a social outcast the opportunity to lead a fulfilling, independent life.
2013 Honoree C. Mead Welles of A Leg To Stand On has provided orthopedic care for more than 9,000 children with limb disabilities in 10 developing countries. One of those children is Stella, a young girl from Uganda, who is looking forward to a lifetime of possibilities, thanks to corrective surgery on her left leg:
When Stella was a baby, her mother noticed a black spot on the back of her left leg. Her family did not become concerned until the spot turned into a blister, eventually causing severe swelling and intense pain.
“The pain was sometimes too unbearable,” Stella’s mother said. “She would cry and refuse to eat.”
Stella’s family took her to the hospital to have the spot treated; however, the open wound healed into a large scar. Over time, the scar tissue prevented her bones from growing normally. Her leg turned upward and twisted at a 90-degree angle. Eventually, Stella could no longer walk without the support of crutches.
At school, children teased her about her leg, calling her kalema (meaning disabled) and laughing in her face.
Stella’s condition continued to get worse until she was referred to the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services of Uganda Hospital for corrective surgery, which was covered by A Leg To Stand On. The approximate cost of her life-changing surgery was only $750.
Today, Stella is walking on her own and meeting new friends. Her peers no longer tease her about her condition since she can run jump and play alongside them. At school, she plays games and no longer has to feel like a social outcast because of a bone infection that happened so long ago. People from distant villages are even flocking to her home to see the remarkable change of Stella’s corrective surgery.