Dr Meda
Dr K.P. Meda with Zante Gerber. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An 18-year-old South African expatriate, born with a congenital deformity in both her legs, was able to walk without support — thanks to a correctional surgery on both her feet in Dubai.

Zante Gerber, an expatriate based in Dubai from Cape Town, South Africa, who recently relocated to Cape Town with her family, was born with a rare condition called Coalition of the ankle and heel on both her feet.

Dr K.P. Meda, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, who specialises in ankle and foot injuries and sports injuries, told Gulf News: “Coalition is an abnormal connection that develops between two bones at the back of the foot and impacts one per cent of the global population.

While the baby is growing in the womb, the bones of the foot have to separate. However, in some cases, the bones in the heel an ankle fuse in an odd manner, affecting movement and causing pain.

Rare congenital condition

Zante was born with this condition and as she grew up, walking became more and more painful for her. She had undergone a couple of correctional surgeries in South Africa as a child, but her pain worsened and she could barely hobble for a few minutes. Her condition triggered osteoarthritis and flat foot that made it impossible for her to be physically active. This affected the social life of the young girl who put on weight owing to lack of mobility.

Correctional surgery carried out

Dr Meda carried out ankle and foot surgery in both the legs within a gap of three months, fusing the bones and allowing Gerber to walk independently. During both the surgeries, her foot was put in an air-cast walker to keep the operated section of the foot packed, thereby taking the weight off it and allowing it to heal post-surgery.

Dr Meda added: “Usually, in such cases, we first try to resolve this problem with the use of physio therapy and insoles in shoes to correct the walk. However, in rare cases such as Zante’s, one has to carry out correctional surgery.”

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Pain disappeared following surgery

Following the surgery, Gerber not only lost a few kilos, but was also pleasantly surprised to be free of pain — a relief after 18 years of suffering.

“My feet are feeling so good since the two surgeries. I am able to keep my balance properly and have no pain at all,” said the happy teenager who advised people not to wait until their pain gets worse. “This surgery has changed my world and I really encourage people to seek medical help as early as they can. I am really grateful for all the help and care I received at Burjeel Hospital.”