Girl, 11, Born With Legs, Feet Facing 180 Degrees ‘Completely Backwards’ Has Limbs Untwisted

The rare rotational limb deformity did not slow her down.

3D illustration of Tibia, medical concept.
Yodiyim / Thinkstock

The rare rotational limb deformity did not slow her down.

An 11-year-old girl was born with a severe leg deformity that left her with her legs and feet facing 180 degrees “completely backwards.” Until just recently, the young girl, known only as Justine, had lived with the condition. The Daily Mail reported on Thursday that Justine actually underwent a surgery about six months ago to untwist her limbs.

Justine not only had to live with her legs and feet facing the wrong direction for 11 years, but she also had to adjust to walking, skipping, and playing with severely bowed legs. The Daily Mail report shares that the rare growth disorder, called Blount disease, “did not stop” Justine from walking home from school, which is just over two miles, but it took hours for Justine because of her rear-facing feet.

According to KidsHealth, Blount disease, which is likely a hereditary condition, affects the growth of the lower leg, causing “bowing of the leg below the knee.” KidsHealth also notes that a symptom of Blount disease can be rotating of the lower leg, as well as bowing, which is the case for Justine. Since Justine is already 11-years-old, she had to undergo surgery to correct the disease, while younger children may only require leg braces.

The previously mentioned Daily Mail report says that Blount disease is progressive with age, and Justine’s case had gotten so severe that both of her lower legs and feet had rotated 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Justine, who resides in the small African city of Yaounde, the capital of the Central African country of Cameroon, had her legs untwisted over five months ago on a charity hospital ship that was Canadian-funded.

Justine reportedly received “world-class health care” from surgeons who untwisted her legs by cutting into the bones and then setting them in place with plaster casts. The Daily Mail shows several before and after photos of Justine’s transformation after surgery to correct her “extreme case” of Blount disease. A spokesperson for the Mercy Ships charity said that Justine was the first patient to use the service in Cameroon.

While Justine didn’t let Blount disease “hold her back,” she now says that there’s nothing she can’t do now, including her favorite activities — football, jump rope, and climbing trees.

Eorthopod notes that rotational deformities of the femur and tibia in children often occur from “pressure in the uterus during pregnancy,” adding that surgery is only recommended if the rotation becomes “very severe” and lasts beyond the age of 4.

In 2015, the Daily Mail reported on another rare foot deformity case out of China after a 26-year-old Chinese woman finally had surgery to correct a congenital condition that left her with backward-bending knees. The woman, Chen Tuanzhi, apparently became used to having to pull herself along the ground but said that public comments upset her.

Justine also noted that other “kids were often mean to her” before she had the surgery in September of 2017 to finally correct her legs and feet.

“Kids were often mean to her; would tease her and run because they knew she couldn’t chase them.”