It’s delivery day. You’ve gone through all of the preparations for your newborn—from appointments and ultrasounds, to adding final touches on the nursery—and you are ready to finally meet your child. The last thing you hope for is any unexpected surprises. For Ken and Shanna Quist of Willmar, Minnesota, the day Shanna delivered their son Camdyn they received not one, but two.
One Surprise Happy; Another Concerning
Learning she had given birth to a baby boy despite her and her husband Ken’s confidence that they would have a girl was their first surprise; one the couple was excited for. But as the new parents held Camdyn and took a good look at him, they received another shock. Noticing the abnormal curvature of his left foot, the first thing Shanna asked nurses was, “Does he have clubfoot?”
Shanna knew about clubfoot because her childhood friend had been born with the condition. However, she and Ken had no idea what this would mean for Camdyn.
“Because our ultrasound didn’t catch Camdyn’s clubfoot, we feared it had missed other things as well,” says Ken. “I worried that he might never be able to walk and play like his older brother and sister.”
After confirming Camdyn’s diagnosis, the family’s pediatrician referred them to Gillette Children's for treatment. The couple was pleased to discover a Gillette outpatient clinic in Minnetonka, Minnesota, a community in the western Twin Cities, which would save them the time of frequent travel to St. Paul. The Quist family soon made the two-hour trip to meet with Alison Schiffern, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating clubfoot.
The Ideal Candidate for Treatment
Schiffern identified Camdyn as an ideal candidate for treatment using the Ponseti method, which gradually corrects clubfoot through a series of plaster-cast applications. At just 9 days old, Camdyn’s first appointment included getting fitted with his first cast. He would need a new cast every Friday for eight weeks, each one manipulating the direction of his left foot a little more. After his eighth cast, and at 9 weeks old, Camdyn underwent a tenotomy—a procedure that would cut through his Achilles tendon to help it lengthen over time.
“We knew we were in the right place,” says Shanna. “I was so nervous before coming to the clinic, but after we talked to everybody, I felt completely relaxed. Dr. Schiffern was there to answer all of our questions, explain the steps we would go through, and even showed us before and after photos of previous patients. We were grateful for her thorough, attentive approach.”
Twelve Minutes of Tummy Time
Shanna describes the day of the surgery as a breeze. Schiffern used a local anesthetic, which meant Camdyn remained awake but didn’t feel any pain. Ken and Shanna were back in the room to see Camdyn after just 12 minutes of waiting time. In fact, Shanna says, “The only reason Camdyn cried during the procedure was because he had to be on his tummy, and he hates that.”
Recovery after the procedure was smooth and simple. Shanna only gave Camdyn Tylenol within the first 24 hours after the surgery, and was otherwise instructed to keep his little foot casted for four weeks and elevated for the first couple days. After removing his cast, Camdyn wore a Ponseti bar and sandals around the clock for 14 weeks, only taking it off for bath time and playtime every night.
Camdyn on the Move
Now 20 months old, Camdyn wears his Ponseti shoes while he sleeps for 12 hours a day, with the hope that he will stop using them when he turns 3. Since learning to walk at 13 months old (with no delays due to the procedure), Camdyn visits Gillette once every six months. Even better, Shanna can access his care right in Willmar at a Gillette outreach clinic.
Shanna describes Camdyn as a wild child, always smiling and running around, while keeping his parents on their toes as he learns to talk more. “These days, the only surprises we get from Camdyn are when he walks himself to the hamper to throw in dirty clothes before bath time, or knows to put his hands together for prayer before dinner—only to clap them afterwards!” she says.
“We are so grateful that, of all the conditions a child could be born with, Camdyn’s was completely treatable,” adds Shanna. “His condition will soon be a thing of the past, and we can’t wait to see how he surprises us next.”