University of Iowa doctors help West African boy walk

Dr. Jose Morcuende, a professor of orthopedics at the University of Iowa, embraces Ivory Coast native, Yvan, who was born with clubfoot.

The year is 2014, and thousands of miles from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, little Yvan sits at home in a village in the Ivory Coast.

Born with clubfoot, his feet are twisted inwardly, making simple tasks like walking painful.

The West African child's outlook is grim, for as he grows, the pain will worsen.

With no buses to transport Yvan to and from school, the boy will receive no formal education.

His inability to perform manual labor will create a problem for villagers already battling starvation.

Given cultural and social norms, Yvan will likely be ostracized, an outcast in his own community.

In some villages, children with birth defects are killed.

The prospects are dire, but little Yvan is in luck, as a faith-based nonprofit is working to bring the boy stateside.

Christian Medical Missions West, based out of Ohio, offers to help Yvan, providing proper health care to address the child's needs.

"I was told that somebody needed some help with a little boy," said Amy Northrup, recalling April 2016. "We said that we would help for a short amount of time, and it turned into a permanent thing."

Now, at the halfway point in 2017, the boy once plagued by a debilitating birth defect runs down the halls of the University of Iowa orthopedics department.

Yvan received numerous braces and casts, designed by Clubfoot Solutions, all part of the Ponseti Method to address his clubfoot.

He required extensive surgery and rehabilitation, but now the Ivory Coast native can sprint without pain.

Yvan's checkup showed vast improvement, with Dr. Jose Morcuende, a professor in the University of Iowa Orthopedics Department, saying the young boy was continuing to build strength and work on flexibility.

Yvan's future is uncertain currently -- he may return to the Ivory Coast -- but regardless of where he ends up, Northrup said he will succeed, and bring joy to others in the process.

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