A toddler who was born with backwards legs can finally walk after having life-changing surgery.
Victoria Komada, of Norwich, was born with the one-in-a-million birth defect tibial bilateral hemimelia, which caused her to have a missing shinbone in her right leg and a shortened one in her left limb.
Her desperate parents Marzena and Dariusz Komada sought the help of eight specialists, who all said amputation was their daughter’s only option.
But they eventually found a reconstruction limb specialist in Florida, who implanted a metal frame that gradually coaxed the bones in Victoria’s left leg into place. But the severity of the condition in her right limb meant it had to be amputated.
A year on, Victoria, who wears a prosthetic, took her first steps in a pink, sparkly shoe.
Victoria Komada was born with the one-in-a-million birth defect tibial bilateral hemimelia, which caused her to be born with legs bent inwards at right angles below her knees
Her parents sought out a medic who specialised in limb reconstruction. She had to have her right limb amputated due to the shinbone being missing, however, it was shortened in her left leg. Victoria is pictured walking for the first time after surgery to coax her bones into position
Her parents Marzena and Dariusz Komada (pictured with the youngster) hope she will have a normal childhood. They refused to allow her legs to be amputated as a newborn, insisting she would do better with the limbs intact. They then desperately sought surgeons who could help
Mr and Mrs Komada moved to the UK from their native Poland four years ago and were expecting a baby shortly after.
The pregnancy went smoothly, with no signs anything was wrong until Victoria was born.
Speaking of seeing her daughter for the first time, Mrs Komada said: ‘The nurse, she came to me and she said: ‘I’m going to give you your daughter in a minute because she’s got problems with her legs.’
‘I said, ‘what problem with her legs?’ and she said ‘nothing don’t worry’.
An orthopaedic surgeon diagnosed Victoria with tibial bilateral hemimelia, which occurs when the shinbone is either short or missing, causing the legs to be bent and twisted.
The medic recommended Victoria have both her legs amputated but the new parents refused to let her go under the knife.
‘For me she needs her own legs, not amputate and prosthetic legs,’ Mr Komada said. ‘And I said ‘no I will not agree to amputate legs, no, no, no’.
Pictured before surgery with her legs bent, Victoria remained cheerful throughout the ordeal
Refusing to let her deformity hold her back, she even learned to walk on her knees pre-surgery
Victoria is pictured after having her left leg operated on. Florida-based limb reconstruction specialist Dr Dror Paley fitted a cylindrical metal frame – called a fixator – into Victoria’s leg, which gradually coaxed her bones into place and helped lengthen the limb
Mr and Mrs Komada took it upon themselves to find a doctor who could help their daughter, only to discover all advised she undergo amputation.
But online research led them to the orthopedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley, who specialises in limb lengthening and reconstruction.
After carrying out a series of scans on Victoria’s legs, Dr Paley was confident he could help the youngster, but it would take a year before the treatment was over.
WHAT IS TIBIAL HEMIMELIA?
Tibial hemimelia covers a spectrum of deformities caused by a shortened or absent shinbone, known as the tibia.
The fibula – bone on the outside of the tibia – is usually unaffected.
Tibial hemimelia often causes foot deformities, with some sufferers having extra toes.
The knees may also be twisted inwards.
The birth defect affects one-in-a-million births. In 30 per cent of births, both legs are deformed.
Most cases cannot be explained.
Severe incidences are often spotted during an ultrasound while the mother is pregnant.
Mild cases may become clear as the child grows.
Most patients require surgery, with the success depending on how much of the bone is missing and if the surrounding muscles are affected.
Procedures aim to length the leg by coaxing the bones back into place.
But in cases where the tibia is completely missing, amputation may be required. A prosthetic can then be fitted.
Source: Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and Steps charity
Although thrilled to have found Dr Paley, the couple then had to raise more than £300,000 for the surgery.
A fundraising page helped them gather £190,000, with Dr Paley agreeing to carry out the procedure for that sum.
The medic set about fitting a cylindrical metal frame – called a fixator – into Victoria’s left leg, which coaxed her bones into place.
‘On Victoria’s right side we [had] to amputate the leg,’ Dr Paley said.
‘And the reason is on the right side, where the tibia is completely missing, the quadriceps muscles mostly missing – the functional result’s not going to be great.’
Although the procedure to implant a fixator in Victoria’s left leg was a success, the youngster then had to endure an uncomfortable recovery.
‘After surgery was really hard time for us,’ Mr Komada. ‘She was crying through the pain. She couldn’t not sleep at night. But after a week she start to feel better.’
Two months later, Victoria’s leg healed and the fixator was gradually stretching her limb into shape. She was then fitted with a prosthetic on her right side and took her first steps not long after.
‘I’ve been waiting so long for that moment,’ Mr Komada said. ‘She’s happy now, but later on she’s going to be very happy. She’s not going to feel as different.’
The couple hope their daughter will have a normal childhood like any other youngster.
‘She’s a normal kid, she’s like clever, she’s happy always,’ Mrs Komada said. ‘I just want her to have a normal life and I know she’s going to have a normal life because she’s a strong girl.’
Victoria features on Body Bizarre, which is on Saturdays at 10pm on TLC UK.
Victoria is pictured walking out of hospital after having a prosthetic fitted for her right limb
Pictured after the surgery with her mother and doctor, Victoria is a ‘strong kid’