140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Monday, October 27, 2008

New legs give Ecuadorean boy a needed boost

KIE RELYEA; The Bellingham Herald October 27th, 2008
BELLINGHAM,OR. – Fifteen-year-old Jordy Erazo Cordero was 6 inches taller when he returned home to Ecuador after two months in Bellingham.

The growth came thanks to the two new legs made for him by Tom Broselle, a prosthetist in Bellingham.

Cordero was born without shinbones, a rare condition known as tibial hemimelia that also affected the growth of his hands. An older uncle also has the disorder.

When Cordero was 8, Helping the Children brought him to Shriners Hospitals for Children-Portland Research Center in Oregon, where his legs were amputated above the knees so he could be fitted for artificial limbs.

Helping the Children is a nonprofit that provides medical care to children around the world.

The operation also removed the remnants of Cordero’s feet, which were at his knees.

At 10, he returned to Portland to replace his first set of prostheses, which he had outgrown.

Five years later, he came to Bellingham for the same reason, bringing with him the artificial legs that were worn out and held together in places with tape.

“They weren’t comfortable at all and really small. I got really tired walking,” Cordero said through translator Bobbie DeBoard.

While in Whatcom County, the boy stayed with DeBoard and her husband, Tedd Judd. Healing the Children asked the couple, both of whom have worked in Latin America and speak Spanish, to house him while he was here and being fitted for his new legs.

Broselle remembers seeing the old, beat-up limbs. The boy didn’t want him to touch them at first, fearing they would fall apart. Broselle also recalled what Cordero looked like in them.

“His legs had doubled in size and in length, so he was kind of jamming his legs in them, making them work,” Broselle explained.

There will be no more making do, thanks to the legs Broselle created, with his new “feet” donated by manufacturer Otto Bock. The donated legs, including labor, are worth $29,349.

Cordero lives in Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil, which has more than 2 million residents. Despite the city’s large size, its health care providers don’t have the medical know-how to create prostheses of the sort made by Broselle, the boy explained.

A few days before returning to Ecuador last week, Cordero pulled up blue jeans over his new aluminum shins and robotic-looking, titanium knees. He looked at the size 9 shoes that cover the carbon-fiber feet.

Above the shins are the carbon-fiber sockets that hold his thighs. The whole prosthesis is held in place with a wide elastic belt that goes around his waist and his hips.

He smiled.

“You know when something is working because he has this huge smile,” Broselle said.

For Cordero, the new legs will allow him to “be stronger.” His feet will reach the floor now. He’ll be able to “get out and do new things.”

Out of them, the top of his head reaches DeBoard’s waistline. In them, they stand eye to eye.

“I’m tall,” Cordero said.

And he likes the view from those added inches.

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