Clubbed-foot girl walks out of hospital

Teen who had upside-down feet now owns shoes
July 2, 2008 4:22:30 PM PDT
Eyewitness News first introduced you to 15-year-old Jingle Luis two months ago, when she entered Montefiore Medical Center with feet so deformed that they twisted backward and upside down. On Wednesday, she walked out of the hospital on her own after a remarkable operation and an even more remarkable recuperation.

It was sweet music to her ears as doctors took off Jingle's pink casts and allowed her to walk, for the first time in her life, on the bottoms of her feet.

"My faith that something would actually happen was so small," surgeon Dr. Randall Owen said. "I just didn't see any way that she would actually come to treatment."

When Dr. Owen met Jingle in the Philippines four and a half years ago, she looked much different than she does now. The teen was born with severely clubbed feet, and doctors gave her little chance of surviving. In fact, doctors there refused to treat her condition.

But doctors at Montefiore changed that. They built special devices and scaffolding that were placed around her feet, stretching them over time until they were straight.

"She's been a great patient from top to bottom," surgeon Dr. Terry Amaral said. "So into her treatment, so involved and so on top of things, so getting her feet straight was very quick."

More casts and weeks of extensive physical therapy followed the initial surgery.

"The physical therapist had to train her to walk, one foot in front of the other, kind of from the beginning," Dr. Amaral said. "Like we do as babies."

Then came the moment Jingle has dreamed of, as doctors slipped on braces and Jingle's first first pair of shoes. She chose pink, because it's her favorite color.

Her goal is to walk quickly, and then run even faster. She wasted no time, walking without her crutches. Jingle was born on Christmas Eve. Doctors said she would never walk. Now, she's a young lady defying the odds.

"I have been more confident in seeing the impossible accomplished," she said.

Doctors say Jingle will have to wear her braces for the next couple of years to keep her feet in line. If she removes them too soon, her feet could go backwards again. But for now, it's one step at a time. One day, she even hopes to wear high heels.


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson