By Tobias Pflanz, CBM Field Communications Manager
It was a morning like any other when Denis began his journey towards walking free from Blount’s disease. Denis, who was eight at the time, sat watching his carer – half-sister Rora – prepare their breakfast in a pot over the open fire. They were having maize and cassava, mashed with groundnut sauce.
A cock was crowing. The smells of jackfruit and burning wood filled the air.
But this was no ordinary morning.
Having lived with Blount’s disease for most of his short life – a condition which bowed the bones of his lower legs outward, making walking extremely painful – Denis was about to receive an operation that would change everything.
Denis was full of smiles. He was ready.
A life-changing operation
At a CBM partner hospital just outside Uganda’s capital, Kampala, Denis met the doctor who would operate on his legs.
The doctor explained he would perform corrective surgery on Denis’s right leg – which was more severely affected – to straighten the bones. He would then fit Denis with a fixator, a device that would temporarily sit on the outside of his leg and continue to align his bones after he left the hospital.
On the left leg, the doctor would implant a small metal plate below the knee joint to stop the leg growing in the wrong direction. As Denis grew taller, the doctor explained, the leg would straighten itself.
A brave boy
Everything in surgery went according to plan and the next day, an exhausted Denis learnt it was time for his first round of physiotherapy.
It was at this point Denis showed everyone just how brave he was.
Despite an intense surgery and a rough first night, Denis gathered the strength to do his first exercise: walking between a set of parallel bars.
Slowly, despite the pain, Denis clenched his teeth and took a step. Then another. Holding tightly to the bars, he began to walk forward.
Life couldn’t be more different!
One year on and life couldn’t be more different for nine-year-old Denis.
Following several months of checkups and physiotherapy exercises, Denis is on his way to a complete recovery.
And he loves everything his new life has to offer.
He can run. He can jump. He can bend his legs and kneel down. And after years of watching other children play, he can now join in!
Denis can also walk to school without any pain and take part in all school activities. He’s now in year one and his teachers report he’s not only doing well with his studies but is happier and more confident too.
For all children like Denis
Denis’s story shows just how much of a difference your gifts to CBM make. When children face the dual challenge of both poverty and disability, it can be difficult for them – and their families – to see a way out. When you partner with CBM, you create opportunities for children like Denis.
I pray that every time you see his face on the calendar this March, you remember your support continues to help children all around the world, just like Denis.
Tobias Pflanz – CBM Field Communication Manager