By Polly Keary, Editor
When supporters of the Carswell family of Monroe take to the trail for a 5K walk to raise funds to help the family bear the cost of medical care for Loch, 4, their activity will be unusually symbolic.
That is because the money they raise will go toward a procedure that will make the little boy himself able to walk, which he otherwise would never get to do.
Loch Carswell was born with a very rare disorder called Congenital Femural Deficiency which meant that, while one of his legs grew at a normal rate, the other would not. The shorter leg had a truncated or absent femur bone, and also a heel that was somewhat bent.
To the horror of his parents, doctors at Children's Hospital in Seattle said that the only option available was to amputate the shorter leg.
But the Carswells learned of another possibility that could not only save the leg, but eventually give Loch all the abilities of any other young man.
A doctor in Florida had developed a technique involving a series of surgeries to lengthen the leg. It is an arduous procedure; children have surgeries at ages 4, 8 and 12, followed by four months of treatments and physical therapy after each surgery. That post-surgery regimen is undertaken in Florida.
"But at the end of all this sacrifice, Loch would have the ability to run and jump and have a normal life," his parents explained in an information sheet about the upcoming fundraiser. "If an option existed in this world that would allow our son to keep his leg, it would be a crime to not exhaust that option."
Last summer, Loch had a surgery that corrected an abnormality in his hip joint.
June 24, Loch and his mother, Cheri, will leave for Florida for the first of many doctor visits prior to his first leg-lengthening surgery.
It is not going to be fun for Loch. After the surgery, he will have physical therapy every day for four months, and five days a week when he gets home.
"It's going to be quite painful," said Cheri. "The screws they stick in his leg are basically open wounds. I have to turn the screws every day and clean around the screws, and then the physical therapists have to stretch the tendons. It's a painful process. The moms there tell me the kids are going to scream and cry."
Cheri and Loch will at least be around a number of other families going through the same thing and can help them know what to expect, as well as offer advice and support. While in Florida, they will stay at a facility like a Ronald McDonald House that offers low cost lodging for families at the hospital for extended medical stays.
Cheri said that, while the process is going to be difficult, Loch is a buoyant and resilient little boy. Already he has made a strong comeback from his first surgery, going to therapy five days a week and getting back on his feet to use a walker.
"He's a happy-go-lucky kid," said Cheri. "He's a tough kid."
The series of surgeries is going to take a heavy financial toll on the Carswell family. Cheri is quitting her job as a preschool teacher so that she can go to Florida for the many trips to the doctor they will have to make.
Before Loch can even get his first leg-lengthening surgery, he will go to Florida every three to six months for visits with his doctor.
While stays at the hospital cost less than would a hotel stay, there is still a cost, and travel expenses and living expenses while out of state will be high.
That is why a friend suggested a fundraiser to Cheri, and the idea of a walk seemed to make sense, she said.
"Since the surgery is having to do with my son walking better, we'll do this," she said.
The walk/run will take place at Lake Tye Park on Saturday, June 1. Entry is $25, and sign in starts at 9 a.m. To learn more, call Cheri Carswell at (425) 343-6805.