In 2000, St. Clair’s mother, Lita, began noticing that her 12-year-old son was having trouble walking because his legs were tilting inwards, which was wearing out the joints and resulting in painful and premature arthritis. His condition progressed to a point where he could no longer play sports or even walk without pain. He was diagnosed with genu valgum, more commonly known as knock-knees.
St. Clair had several surgeries at South Florida hospitals to correct the problem, but still complained of pain in his legs. It wasn’t long before the family began to notice further problems.
“After the last surgery, he started itching and his bone cells began to develop very quickly, forming a knot where he had his surgery,” says Lita. “When he was tested, we learned his kidneys were failing and causing his bones to deteriorate.”
As a result, St. Clair’s leg was unable to heal properly, and he was in need of a kidney transplant to survive. He was placed on the kidney donor list in December 2002. Luckily for St. Clair, after undergoing kidney transplant surgery in July 2003, the Clarkes were referred to Christopher Iobst, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Miami Children’s Hospital and the only provider of pediatric limb correction services in South Florida.
“When I first met St. Clair, he had significant deformity in both legs that kept him from walking,” says Dr. Iobst, who specializes in limb lengthening and limb deformity corrections. “Because he had stopped growing, the best option was to cut his bone and realign it gradually by attaching a frame to his leg that could be adjusted.”
Making the decision to go through another surgery was a difficult one, but St. Clair and his family trusted Dr. Iobst and the staff at Miami Children’s.
“I was nervous and scared,” St. Clair says. “I knew the surgery was a good decision, though, because Dr. Iobst is a great doctor who makes every effort to explain everything to me.”
Dr. Iobst performed the surgery to straighten St. Clair’s legs in April 2005. Today, after more than a year’s worth of hard work, physical therapy and frequent doctor visits, St. Clair is finally able to run and reach his dream of playing football again.
“Dr. Iobst and Miami Children’s have been so good to us,” says St. Clair Clarke Sr., St. Clair Jr.’s father. “Dr. Iobst came to visit St. Clair even when he wasn’t on duty and has given my son his life back. To me, that makes Miami Children’s the best in the business.”
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