Toddler born with rare birth defect has legs amputated, will be fitted with prosthetics

An 18-month-old girl born with one of the rarest congenital lower-limb deformities known in the medical community has had both of her legs amputated below the knee in an operation that her parents are hoping will provide her with more opportunity for independence.

Danielle and Michael Gibbs, of Wales, said they didn’t know their daughter Freya had bilateral tibial hemimelia until two weeks after her Sept. 2017 birth, SWNS reported.

“Her feet were in an awkward position, her knees didn’t move and her legs were in a fixed position,” Danielle Gibbs told SWNS.

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Danielle Gibbs said doctors suggested Freya may have club foot, before it was determined that she had a more severe deformity, that according to the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA), is estimated to occur in just 1 in every million live births.

Freya's parents said they weren't given her formal diagnosis until two weeks after birth, and after researching options decided early amputation was the best course for their daughter.

Freya's parents said they weren't given her formal diagnosis until two weeks after birth, and after researching options decided early amputation was the best course for their daughter. (SWNS)

In infants diagnosed with the condition, the tibia is either entirely absent or is hypoplastic, although the fibula is fully intact. Foot abnormalities are often observed, and treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis, but nearly all patients require surgical intervention, according to POSNA.

Danielle Gibbs said her daughter was likely facing a childhood of surgeries had they tried to save and correct her legs, which wasn’t guaranteed to avoid amputation either, according to SWNS.

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“We didn’t want to take that risk on it when we knew if she had the amputation at this age she wouldn’t miss out anything in life and would not know any different,” she told SWNS.

So on Feb. 18, at Cardiff Children’s Hospital, Freya underwent her double amputation.

“She was in and out on the same day. We knew it needed to be done for her,” Daneille Gibbs told SWNS.

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She will soon be fitted for her first pair of prosthetics, which her parents hope will help her walk and run with kids her age.

“She’ll learn how to adapt to prosthetic legs and will have always done things that way,” Danielle Gibbs told the news outlet. “Kids bounce back. If they want to do something they’ll do it, rather than an adult struggling, the kids will get on with it.”