My daughter defied a bowing deformity, narrates Kihara

By People Reporter
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
Alex Kihara and daughter Emma Nyambura. She underwent an operation to correct her deformed legs three months ago. BELOW: Emma before the surgery. Photo/PD/MARY KINUTHIA
In summary

Emma Nyambura’s jovial and social nature stood out more than her bow legs did. And for five years, she lived a carefree life as her father Alex Kihara narrates

Mary Kinuthia

Alex Kihara and Fatuma Nzula were over the moon when they welcomed their second-born child, a girl.

Their first child was a boy, named Travis Kamau. Not that they were choosy in terms of gender, but a baby girl was a pleasant surprise.

The baby, Emma Nyambura, appeared healthy and hit her milestones just like any other child. However, the couple noted that as she grew up, she developed legs deformity, which worsened as time went by and became more conspicuous.

“Our first thought has she had rickets. It bothered us despite her swiftness and determination to walk and play around the house,” Alex states. 

In 2017, when Emma was three, the couple took her to various hospitals in Nairobi. Even after several therapy sessions and medication, there was no notable change.

“Although my girl proved strong as she endured a lot, being in and out of hospitals, my wife and I was financially and emotionally drained. 

We gave up on seeking further treatment hoping the deformity might maybe, just maybe, correct itself as she grew up,” the father of three says solemnly.

When Emma was enrolled at a nursery school in the same year, she stood out for her social and jovial spirit.

“Teachers said her playful nature and cheerfulness stood out more than her deformity. She interacted and played freely with other children, not conscious that she looked different,” he says.

Daunting task

It is this cheerful spirit that got Emma noticed by one woman as she was playing at their Kariobangi South neighbourhood two years ago.

“One evening as our daughter was playing outside our residence, a stranger saw her and enquired from a shopkeeper next to my residence whether he knew Emma’s parents. The shopkeeper knew us well.

The woman told him that she knew a hospital that would offer treatment for Emma. She left her contacts with the shopkeeper, in case we needed more information,” Emma’s father recalls. 

The couple did not take any chances but called the stranger who directed them to AIC Cure International Hospital in Kijabe.

Father and daughter visited the hospital for consultation and were assured the deformity, which the doctors established to be Infantile Blount’s disease, would be corrected through surgery.

Blount’s disease is a disorder of the growth plates in the bones around the knee. It causes a child to have a bowlegged appearance. Alex was told the surgery would cost him Sh200,000.

Although excited that he had found a cure for his daughter, he left sad knowing raising such an amount of money was a daunting task. 

“I hawk second-hand baby shoes in Mathare for a living and my wife is a stay-at-home mum who at that time was about to give birth to our third baby, Whitney. I did not have medical cover.

Where on earth would I get that kind of money?” Alex poses. So life went on as usual as the couple tried to figure out how they would raise the money.  

“Being a father sometimes means you have to do anything possible to provide a better life to your children, even when it means denying yourself and going an extra mile,” says Alex.

So in June this year, he decided to fundraise. He also joined the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). The couple raised only half the amount by the end of June through the fundraiser.

While on the verge of once again giving up, a well-wisher sponsored the remaining amount and Emma proceeded with the surgery. “She went for treatment in July this year.

We were grateful for how things progressed. The first two weeks after surgery, she claimed to have a recurring pain being on the orthopaedic cast. She was also out of school to focus on treatment and regular check-ups,” he explains.

 The now five-year-old Emma braved the treatment. Now her legs have recovered and straightened as though nothing was wrong in the first place. “I will retell this story to my daughter even in her adult years.

Luckily, we live in a digital world where I have photos and video to back up my story in case she ever doubts my love for her,” Alex concludes 

Regina Ndirangu, a clinical officer at AIC Cure says a small amount of bowing is normal in infants. However, as most children begin to walk, between the ages of one and two, their legs straighten out. 

Infantile Blount's disease

The exact cause of Blount’s disease remains unknown. But since most children who develop Blount’s disease began walking at an early age, early walking is believed to be a major contributing factor. 

Blount’s disease is also more common in obese or overweight children. “It is advisable that children maintain a healthy weight in their early life,” Regina notes. 

Choosing the mode of treatment is dependent on the stage or severity of the deformity.

“We use braces, observation and close monitoring during early stages in the less severe non-operative treatment. Severe and progressed cases like Emma’s, call for operative treatment,” she says.

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