When Dr. Andrea Herbert and her husband, Adam Renner, learned of their son Eli’s congenital shortened femur syndrome, TMC pediatric orthopaedist Dr. Kent Vincent provided a reason for the couple to remain calm. “I’ll be there for you for the whole course of his treatment. We will follow him with X-rays. Let’s hope his femurs stay equally short and he should be okay,” Vincent said.
Unfortunately, when Eli was 6 months old, his right femur bone was not growing as fast as the left, and when he was 1 year old, a similar dysfunction was occurring with his hip. He had to wear 2.5-centimeter lifts on his shoe, which made it hard for him to keep up with his twin brother and put him at risk for falling.
With the help of TMC for Children pediatric physical therapist Charlene Fregosi, Eli was able to play like a normal 2-year-old, but still was in danger of dislocating his hip. In spring 2014, Eli went through two surgeries where Vincent cut his femur to reposition and then reconstructed the socket in his hip to improve his stability.
After this surgery, Eli wore a spica cast—a body cast—for five weeks while his body healed. Herbert recalls, “The spica was horrendous, really hard. His personality completely changed. He wouldn’t do anything for himself and cried all day and night.”
Herbert and her family found challenges reasoning with Eli during this time. “It was heartbreaking. How do you make a 2-year-old understand that this is for his good and for his future? We knew it was the only way to make him better so we just had to do it.”
The TMC Child Life program proved to be a lifesaver during Eli’s healing process. Herbert said, "Child Life provided us with a wagon to take home that worked out much better than his wheelchair. Thanks to donations through Children’s Miracle Network, EIi was dramatically more comfortable during his recovery and our life was much more tolerable.”
CMN also provided toys and other essentials for his at-home healing process.
When Eli was taken out of the cast, Fregosi worked with him again in outpatient therapy to help get him back to walking. Herbert speaks highly of Fregosi’s efforts.
“Charlene worked tirelessly to get Eli to walk again. He was feeling sorry for himself and did not want to walk. She met with him two times a week, and she even moved her schedule around for him. She truly devoted herself to Eli’s recovery. She’s amazing, a miracle worker, really,” Herbert says.
Eli was walking with a limp three weeks after he began working with Fregosi. Today, Eli no longer needs physical therapy, has no limp, and runs and plays normally with no lifts on his shoes. He is back to being a normal kid with a stable leg.