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Herman’s clubfoot success story – ‘We are completely positive about his future’

Herman Nagel will be six years old in October 2022. He lives in Vanderbijlpark,Gauteng with his mom and dad, Hannelie and Nico, and brother Nicholas. He was born with bilateral clubfoot.

Hannelie says, ”We only found out he had clubfoot the day he was born. We were shocked, you don’t expect something like that because you don’t know about it. It’s not something you read in the news everyday. I was angry at myself, because I thought it was my fault that it happened.

We looked for a way to get it fixed. I mean we do live in the 21st century, they can make robotic hands, they can surely fix clubfoot. The doctor at Johan Heyns hospital initially referred us to Sebokeng hospital as she said they treated clubfoot. My husband Nico decided to go on the Internet to research clubfoot, causes and treatments, and he came across Karen and STEPS Charity and he emailed her. Karen advised us on what clinic to go to for the best treatment. Our family asked us if it can be fixed and how it can be fixed. After we had explained they accepted and supported us.

We had to arrange transport to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Clubfoot clinic, as it is 70 kilometres from our home and it took about an hour to get there.

Herman was about 8 days old when he got his first treatment that was casts, then at 5 weeks he had his tenotomy procedure and his last casts that he had to wear for 3 weeks, and then he wore his  brace at night until he was four years old. The treatment process was confusing at first, but once you understand it, it becomes more manageable for both the child and the family. 

The staff at the clinic was straightforward and great. Everybody got treated the same way. If we had any questions, they answered it for us and explained the process. We almost every time saw the same doctors and always saw the same friendly STEPS faces at the clinic.

The hardest part of the whole experience for us was the first cast and the tenotomy. Then came the part where he had to wear the boots and bar for 23 hours a day for the first three months. But in the end it was all worth it. We are so proud that we saw the whole treatment through.

I would advise families that go through the same, not to give up on the process. It is draining, and sometimes hard on the child and us as parents, but the result is so satisfying. Sometimes you feel like giving up, because of the pain they go through and when they get older they try to take their shoes off.

We are most grateful for all the people at the clinic that helped us along the road. What motivated us the most during the journey was that the doctors told us what the result would be if we continued the treatment, and what would happen if we didn’t.

Herman is now in grade R and loving every moment of school and playing outside. No one knows that he had clubfoot and he is not ashamed about it. He runs and plays with his brother and our dogs. He is a happy child thanks to the awesome clinic staff that were part of our journey.

We are completely positive about his future. We were told that some sports stars have had clubfoot and it gave us some hope.

Our dream for him is not to be ashamed of how he was born, but rather taking that and using it as motivation. He wants to be a Vet when he grows up.

Stepping up to donate monthly to clubfoot support means that Steps can give children the encouragement and tools they need to complete the four treatment plan and achieve full mobility. Clubfoot support changes the trajectory of a child’s life.