Willow Dodding from Blackpool was born with a major bone missing in her lower leg and now has an artificial foot
Brave Willow Dodding beamed with happiness as she took her first steps on her prosthetic foot.
The one-year-old had to have her foot amputated around four months ago due to a birth defect that was picked up before she was born at a 20-week scan.
So parents Charlotte and James Dodding, both 27, were delighted to catch on camera the first time she tried out her artificial foot.
Charlotte said: “She’s so determined and resilient – nothing fazes her.”
The couple found out they were expecting Willow, their first child, in November 2018. At the 20-week scan, doctors broke the news that the baby had no fibular bone in her right leg.
They were told to “wait and see” how bad the problem was before deciding on the best course of treatment.
Charlotte said: “It was quite a shock to get that news. There’s no reason for it, it was just a random mutation.”
Willow arrived in July 2019 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, weighing 5lb 13oz. The two remaining bones in her right leg were shorter than her left leg.
As Willow got older, she started walking. But the difference in leg length left her struggling with a limp.
Charlotte, a special support assistant from Blackpool, said: “She used to walk on the inside of her foot quite badly and her knee would pop out of place.
“We looked at leg-lengthening but that would involve lots of operations and we wanted her to have a normal childhood. Also, it didn’t guarantee she wouldn’t need an amputation when she was older.”
In January Charlotte and James, a teacher, decided to have Willow’s foot removed – when she was 19 months old – to give her best chance of mobility later in life.
It took surgeons at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital two-and-a-half hours to carry out the operation. A custom-made limb was built for her by experts at Preston Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre.
It included fabric from a floral top she had worn as a baby.
Charlotte said: “She was a little upset when she woke up from the operation but she’s absolutely fine now. She couldn’t wait to get moving again. I remember her trying to crawl the day after her operation.
“I don’t think she remembers having her foot – she’s so comfortable with the prosthetic.”
And in May, just months after the procedure, Willow was up and walking with it.
Charlotte said: “We’re so proud of Willow. It was a tough decision to choose to amputate her leg, but we knew it was the best option. She’s already walking confidently on the new prosthetic.”
Seeing their daughter overcome her disability has inspired Charlotte and James to help other families in the same situation.
The mum added: “Our goal is to raise awareness for fibular hemimelia and to support other families. She’s doing so well and we’re really thankful for the amazing prosthetic.”