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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Doctors at a Twin Cities hospital just made a South American boy’s life a whole lot better after one surgery corrected 10 different bones.
Santiago Quintana and his family traveled several thousand miles for a surgery they couldn’t get at home. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy that affected his ability to walk.
Walking has always been terribly tiresome, and pain has been a problem too for Quintana. His knees and feet are bent inward, so standing straight has never been something the 12-year old could do.
“It’s normal for me to walk like this,” he said.
Santiago developed slower than his siblings, and, as he got older, walking has become more and more difficult. He drags his feet.
“He walks with a walker. He goes to school with a walker. He uses crutches also in short walks,” said his mother, Conchita.
She always hoped for an easier life for her son, but the needed surgery in South America wasn’t possible until a twist of fate brought him to America.
His orthopedic surgeon in Santiago, Chile, referred him to Dr. Tom Novacheck at Gillette Children’s Hospital. Gillette surgeons travel to South America annually to provide orthopedic care for children with disabilities, and that’s how Santiago’s doctor knew about Dr. Novacheck.
“I saw a bright kid, energetic kid, kid and family who are hopeful, and i thought we could help them,” Dr. Novacheck said.
He also found Santiago was using four times as much energy to walk as compared to normal children.
“It was becoming more and more difficult for him to walk, so he was losing ground,” Dr. Novacheck said.
He performed a single multilevel surgery, realigning Santiago’s bones and joints, straightening his knees and realigning his feet. He now walks straight and upright.
“So being upright hopefully less pain, should be less pain, and should be able to walk the longer distances,” said Dr. Novacheck.
Santiago recently went home to start his new life.
“I’m hoping that i can walk good and do other stuff,” Santiago said.
He will work with therapists more to develop muscle strength. He someday dreams of ditching his crutches and walker and walking on his own.