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Mother of son with clubfoot shares story in honor of awareness month

POSTED: June 14, 2015 5:19 a.m.
Jen Jacobson/

Caden sporting clubfeet casts with drawn-on flip-flops and Bermuda shorts.

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When Haili Randall opened her arms to her first child, she also had to welcome in a whole lot of medical challenges.

Caden was born with bilateral clubfeet, meaning both his feet had grown deformed and tangled up, inside his mother’s stomach.

“It was kind of shocking,” said Randall. “You expect your first birth to be sunshine and roses. It wasn’t ‘we go home and enjoy our baby.’ It was ‘we go home and make doctors appointments.’”

Clubfoot is a congenital abnormality causing a baby’s feet to be twisted and turned inward and upward because the tissues connecting the muscles to the bone tendons are shorter than usual.

Despite her son’s challenges, Randall stayed optimistic, noting although she did not initially know anyone who had clubfoot, she always believed her son could still reach his fullest potential.

“Kristie Armaguicci also had clubfoot,” said Randall. “Look at what she’s done. The only limitation is the one that the parents perceive, but it’s just not true.”

Professional soccer player, Mia Hamm and football star Troy Aikman were also born with clubfoot.

However, because Caden was also born with arthrogryposis, some doctors told Randall her son would most likely not walk.

“They said that if he did walk, it wouldn’t be without assistance, such as a walker (or) arm crutches,” said Randall.

Children with arthrogryposis don’t have as much flexibility in their joints. Some joints may even be stuck in one position.

Often the muscles around these joints are thin, weak, stiff or missing. Extra tissue may have formed around the joints, holding them in place.

Quite literally, Caden is a walking miracle, based upon some doctors’ expectations.

At 6 years old, Caden is signed up to play soccer this fall.

“I love soccer,” said Caden.

Caden has pictures of soccer balls all over a pair of his walking casts.

“Every picture I have he’s got a smile on his face,” said Randall. “He just exudes joy. People are just drawn to him.”

Randall says her son’s life was changed forever, thanks the late Dr. Ignacio Ponseti.

Back in the 1930s Ponseti developed a method that would correct clubfoot through casts.

The month of June is set to raise awareness about clubfoot in honor Ponseti’s birthday.

“He was treating patients (with clubfoot) up until he was 93 years old,” said Randall.

Thanks to Ponseti, by the time a child is 4 or 5 years old, the clubfoot can be fully corrected with the correct treatment.

Still, Randall says there are other issues that stem from clubfoot.

“A lot of insurance companies don’t recognize (clubfoot) as something that if it’s not corrected that child won’t walk,” said Randall.

In underdeveloped countries, babies born with clubfoot wind up walking on the outsides of their feet if they walk at all because their feet were never corrected in the first place.

“It saddens me because it’s so easily fixable,” said Randall. “It’s something that shouldn’t be life-altering.”

Randall has sent old pairs of shoes and braces that do not fit her son anymore to underdeveloped countries so that she can help others.

As of today, medical research leaves doctors to believe clubfoot is not preventable. In the past, there have been studies linking the possibility back to a pregnant woman taking a medication called Zofran, which helps to relieve nausea. However, medical professionals haven’t had enough evidence to confirm those findings.

“I took Zofran when I was pregnant with my second child, but she doesn’t have clubfoot,” said Randall.

Although having a child with clubfoot is a scary process, Randall says she encourages mothers who have children with clubfoot to join support groups.

“I’ve learned not to take little things for granted," she said. "I didn’t know how upset I’d be to cut out the feet of sleeper jammies (but) it’s not the end of the world.”

Randall says she actually misses the days she strapped boots onto her baby son.

“That was our bonding moment,” said Randall. “That’s changed now. It’s weird how you think you’ll never miss (it) and you do.”
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