Surgery Allows 9 Year Old to Wear Shoes for First Time

Surgery Allows 9 Year Old to Wear Shoes for First Time

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Samantha Hayes ReportingA nine-year old boy from Mexico put shoes on today for the first time. Until a recent operation his severe club-feet made walking difficult and shoes impossible.

In September Freddy Ruiz and his mother left their ranch in Durango, Mexico for the first time to come here for surgery. Nine-year old Freddy Ruiz is ready to take his first steps with his new feet. Doctors say he'll come along as his calf muscles begin to take shape.

Dr. Stephen Santora, Surgeon: “Most kids we treat under the age of one and have their feet corrected by the time they are learning to walk."

For most of his life Freddy has been walking with both feet turned inward and downward, causing him to walk on the sides of his feet.

Dr. Stephen Santora, Surgeon: “And some even recommended the best outcome might have been amputation."

His mother, Juana, says she is crying because she is happy.

Juana Ruiz, Freddy's Mother: “He can go to school now, go on with his life. He's going to be able to help out on the ranch, contribute."

Doctors released all the tissue around the bones and repositioned the feet by 180 degrees. Then they reattached the muscles so he could walk properly.

Now in the rehabilitation phase Freddy has bonded with Dr. Stephen Santora and Matt Lowell, his physical therapist.

Matt Lowell, Physical Therapist: “And even though he doesn't know it yet, he can start taking steps without the walker. He just doesn't have the confidence yet."

Before the surgery doctors spent time in Mexico evaluating Freddy to see if he would be a good candidate. Because he is nine years old they also had to consider emotional factors.

Dr. Stephen Santora, Surgeon: “I think where he came from he was considered crippled and unable to wear shoes, and you could tell he was very, very scared."

He used to wear long pants to cover his abnormality. Now he's happily donning new shorts, and the shoes...well they are special too.

Juana Ruiz, Freddy's Mother: “We are probably going to be discharged at Christmas time, and his feet are the gift."

All care from Shriners hospital is free. Ten percent of the patients, like Freddy, come from Mexico.

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