Two-year-old Ava Bainbridge had barely learned how to take her first steps before she was struck down by meningitis, which cost her her toes and part of both of her feet.
However, thanks to her new pair of unique prosthetic ‘slippers’, Ava is back on her feet.
Ava contracted the deadly meningitis bug in January 2011 when she was 14 months old, where her worried parents rushed her to hospital after Ava’s temperature soared and skin flared up in red spots.
“She woke up during the night and was shivering with a high temperature. We never imagined it could be anything like meningitis,” mother Gemma Clay told World Wide Features.
“I really panicked when I saw the spots. They diagnosed her with meningococcal meningitis and septicemia and within half an hour, she was on a ventilator fighting for her life.”
Doctors told Ava’s terrified parents that their daughter had a small chance of surviving and to prepare themselves for the worst. “Our whole world just fell apart. We didn’t know whether she would survive,” Gemma explained.
“She was put into an ambulance and I gave her a kiss. I didn’t know whether I was going to see her again. The purple rash had quickly spread all over her body.”
Sadly, after three days fighting the bug, Ava’s toes went black. She had to have all her toes and part of both feet surgically removed but luckily doctors were able to save her fingers and hands, giving her drugs usually administered for frost bite.
“I asked doctors if she was going to lose her toes and they said yes. But it didn’t matter at least she was alive. I told them to do whatever they needed to do to save her,” said Ava’s mother.
Two weeks after Ava’s toes were amputated, she was allowed to go home and was given a pair of foam blocks for her shoes to help her walk again.
However, Ava found the shoe blocks too uncomfortable to use everyday.
That’s where the experts from the Dorset Orthopaedic stepped in and offered to make Ava her very own pair of silicone ‘feet slippers’ – a first of their kind.
The realistic-looking prosthetic feet were made especially for Ava and enables her to walk properly and do everything a normal two-year-old loves doing, as well as wearing normal shoes. Which is a relief, as Ava is a “real Imelda Marcus when it comes to shoes!” according to mum Gemma.
“She loves her new slippers. She thinks that we have bought her some new toes back from the shop.
“She knows that she wears her new toes during the day and takes them off for night and she thinks that’s great.
“Ava’s just taken her first steps and she determined to walk everywhere she can. She doesn’t want to go in the buggy and instead she asks to walk. We are so proud of her.”
A spokesperson for the Dorset Orthopaedic said they are also thrilled with Ava’s new feet.
“This is the first time we have ever made these silicone slippers for someone so young. It was quite difficult to cast her feet, as they were so tiny. They are built up at the end so she can wear them comfortably.
“They look extremely realistic and they look great.”