Ca Van Tien
Ca Van Tien was born in 2007 in the mountainous region of Northwest Vietnam with both of his feet turned inward and upward. Panicked, his parents, Ca Van Le and Ca Van Hoa, took their infant to the community health clinic and prepared for the news that their son would never be able to walk. Had Ca Van Tien been born a year earlier, the clinic nurses would have given them such news. However, the clinic staff had recently learned how to diagnose a congenital condition, called clubfoot, and that a non-surgical clubfoot treatment program was being piloted that year at the provincial hospital. Recognizing that Ca Van Tien was born with bilateral clubfoot, the clinic was able to give Ca Van Le and Ca Van Hoa the good news that not only was their son’s condition treatable, but that treatment existed 50 km away in Son La, the provincial capital.
Ca Van Le and Ca Van Hoa traveled to Son La for the first time in their lives where doctors told them about the Ponseti method of treatment, a series of 5-8 weekly casts and subsequent shoe braces that would correct their son’s condition and allow him to walk normally. While they had no direct transportation from their remote, mountain community, Le and Hoa were determined to get their son care. Even when the rains turned their day long trek into two days, they never missed an appointment.
Today, Ca Van Tien is an energetic 6 year-old whose favorite activity is playing soccer with his brother. With barely any recollection of his treatment, Ca Van Tien is unaware of the life of physical disability and social isolation that he has escaped – a life that tragically awaits the majority of children born with clubfoot in the developing world.
Since the first clinic at Son La Provincial Hospital in 2007, the Vietnam National Clubfoot Program has partnered with 23 government hospitals throughout the country, providing the Ponseti method of treatment to almost 1000 children.