A heartfelt offer of support for worried parents

Walter Johnston and Donna Crane with baby Dylan
Walter Johnston and Donna Crane with baby Dylan

The parents of a Wigan baby born with “club foot” have opened their hearts to help any families hit by the potentially life-limiting condition.

Dylan Johnston, at only 15-weeks-old is confined to special “boot braces” for 23 hours a day after being diagnosed while he was still in his mum’s womb.

His parents Donna Crane, 29 and Walter Johnston, 41, from Ince, have decided to speak out about their experience with Dylan, to help any families who may not know where to turn if their child is diagnosed.

Club foot is a condition in which the feet are so twisted, they are unable to be placed flat on the floor which left untreated can severely affect mobility.

“It’s hard to get our heads round it,” said Walter. “They don’t actually know the reasons behind it.

“I have been asking them all sorts of questions. I have two other boys and they don’t have it. It happens to one in 1,000 children that are born. The thing is it’s quite common to them but it’s not to us.”

In the few weeks since his birth, Dylan has already been through surgery, which involved cutting through tendons to help release his feet.

The committed parents are taking their son to appointments every week at Manchester Children’s Hospital, where he will continue to receive treatment on some level for the next 10 years.

“We are only in the very early stages,” added Walter. “It’s kind of like going into a dark room. You don’t know why it has happened.

“If anyone going through the same thing wants to talk about it we would meet them to talk to them. It can get hard sometimes.

“We have to keep the boots and bars on at all times. Sometimes it doesn’t bother him and other times it may do, but he can’t tell us.”

Donna and Walter have been told that due to such an early diagnosis, there is an 80 per cent chance that the treatment will be successful.

The father-of-three said: “I don’t know how other people have felt. You only want the best for your children. The doctors are doing an absolutely fabulous job, I can’t thank them enough.”

Once the pair have had time to come to terms with their new routine, they plan to raise money for the Ponseti clinic at Manchester Children’s Hospital, as well as “Steps”, which is a national charity helping families whose lives are affected by lower limb conditions.

Donna said: “We want to let other new parents who have had a recent diagnosis know that there is help and support out there. There is also a good group on Facebook called Happy Feet Talipes.”

Dylan was born with fixed bilateral talipes, meaning the condition affects both of his feet. He is undergoing treatment called the “Ponseti” method, which corrects congenital clubfoot without the need for invasive surgery.