ST. GEORGE – The families of two local children struggling with the challenges of clubfoot and other defects have turned to the community for help; one received an overflow of support recently from businesses and members of Washington County in response to a St. George News report in July this year. Another is now reaching out in their most urgent time of need.
What is clubfoot?
Clubfoot is a congenital birth defect in which one or both feet are rotated inward, causing a child to walk on the outside of their feet or even on their ankles. The condition severely limits a child’s movement and ability to be active, thus delaying development and eventually impacting their lifestyle.
Unfortunately, clubfoot is a relatively common birth defect, occurring in about one in every 1,000 infants. The cause is yet unknown and a topic of much speculation in medical research. It cannot be eradicated prenatally, only treated after a child is born and through their first few years of life. Untreated, clubfoot will progress into deformity requiring surgical reconstruction and impair walking ability.
If clubfoot is recognized at birth, it can be treated with a casting technique called the Ponseti method. The technique requires cast changes once a week for four to six weeks as the feet are gradually stretched back to a normal position. The Ponseti method has a high success rate and is considered the first choice of medical professionals in treating the condition. Bracing and a tendon release, a surgical procedure in which a tendon, most commonly the Achilles, is clipped in order to decrease tension in the muscle it controls, are also used.
Stephanie and David Pickett have faced the challenges of affording treatment for their 15-month-old son Aiden, who suffers from a club foot and vision impairment, a heart murmur and leaky heart valves, underdeveloped lungs and possibly cystic fibrosis, mild hearing impairment, neurological and growth delays and other conditions which doctors have not yet been able to successfully diagnose or treat. He has been admitted to the hospital three times this year alone, most recently for eight days in August. The family has traveled to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Salt Lake City, 12 times in the past one and one-half years, and Aiden has endured one surgery and nine casts for his clubfoot.
The costs of medical care and travel, along with raising three other very young children, has financially crippled the family. David Pickett lost his job due to the frequent trips out of town and their car is currently inoperable, with no money for repairs. The family chronicles their struggle in a blog, The Life of Aiden, and via a Facebook page.
Due to recent budget cuts, Shriners will no longer be able to assist the family with transportation expenses. With another clubfoot treatment coming in October and no way to afford it, the Picketts have appealed to the generosity of the community as their last hope.
“This is just a long road of treatments, with many more to come. We don’t know what is next from one visit to the next,” Stephanie Pickett said. “So it’s hard to plan. We have exhausted our funds.”
To learn how to donate, contact the family at 435-772-6495 or [email protected].
Ashley Kelton has been struggling to afford the care needed for her 11-month-old daughter Kenzlie, who was born with a club foot, heart murmur and other serious health complications, literally since her first moments of life. She spent nine days in the neonatal intensive care unit and has been wearing a series of corrective casts on her right leg since she was two weeks old. She has endured three surgeries, numerous bracing and other treatments and dozens of long journeys to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Just a few months ago, Kelton could barely afford Kenzlie’s medical expenses not covered by insurance, along with travel and the day-to-day costs of supporting a child with health issues. More about Kenzlie’s condition and her family’s difficult journey is presented in a St. George News story from July 12, 2013.
But, on Sept. 12, Prado & Kramer Real Estate hosted a community barbeque in downtown St. George to raise money and awareness for Kenzlie’s condition and aid the struggles of the Kelton family. Along with sponsors Axiom Financial, Iggy’s Sports Grill, the Rock N’ Horse Band, Guild Mortgage, KCSG News’ Tracie Sullivan and Princess & Character Visits of Southern Utah, a total of $3,139 was collected. The check was presented to Kelton earlier this week by the Washington County Board of Realtors.
The barbeque was the most significant community support Kelton has received and will go a long way in paying for Kenzlie’s medical care and associated costs, Prado & Kramer realtor and event coordinator Debbie Heisler said.
Kelton has decided to donate about $1,500 of the proceeds from the event to Primary Children’s, in hopes of helping other parents of children born with clubfoot and to thank the hospital for the excellent care and support that she and her daughter have received. She said the rest of the money raised will satisfy her immediate financial needs, and any additional donations she receives via Kenzlie’s Cause will most likely be given to Primary Children’s as well.
“Without everybody’s help, my daughter wouldn’t have had her crucial surgery and she wouldn’t be able to walk right now,” Kelton said. “It’s amazing, all the help we got.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.