Pretoria preschooler still her misses her 'baby leg' after amputation due to rare disease

By Jana van der Merwe
01 March 2016

It’s been 20 days since Elnye’s left foot was amputated at the Life Groenkloof Hospital in Pretoria.

The five-year-old suffers from a rare disorder called Ollier disease and as a result her left leg – which she called her "baby leg" – was already 9 cm shorter than her right leg. The difference in length would only increase as she got older.

Due to how bad her condition was, amputation was the only way to give the little girl a chance at a normal life.

Her mother, Elmarie Potgieter (34), an administrative officer, told YOU on Monday that the recovery process has been challenging and little Elnye is still having a hard time accepting the fact that her foot has been cut off.

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“We're busy weaning her off the pain medication and it hasn’t been going well. Every once in a while she also tells me she misses her ‘baby leg’ and then I have to console her and explain why it had to be removed.”

At least the operation was a success and her doctor plans to remove the stitches either on 10 March or shortly thereafter.

Read more: Mother breaks her own daughter’s leg over 300 times to avoid amputation

“As soon as the wound is better, which will hopefully be around 13 March, she’ll go for the moulding of the prosthesis. She should have a prosthesis at the end of March or beginning of April.

“She also complains quite often about being tired of hopping around on one leg and muscle spasms,” says Elmarie of her daughter’s ordeal. But they’re not losing hope.

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“We're curious to see what it will look like when the bandages are gone. It's proving quite exhausting to have to wait and keep her calm and explain the situation to her.”

Earlier this year YOU magazine reported on the little girl who at such a young age needed to accept that she was going to have to lose her left foot in order to live a normal life.

“My little foot is going to Jesus in a purple coffin,” the precocious little girl told us. This came after her mother needed to explain to her what was going to happen. All Elnye wanted to know was what was going to become of her foot.

Elmarie and her husband, Eddie (38), who runs an alum

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inium business, also spoke to us about the enormous medical expenses that have come with their daughter’s condition.

One of these expenses is the prosthesis that Elnye is going to get, which will need to be refitted and replaced as she grows older. On top of that their medical aid only covered R11 000 of the operation’s total cost. On 23 February they held a golf day in Pretoria to raise funds for Elnye.

Anyone who'd like to assist the family can visit the website Childmedi.org for more information.

What is Ollier disease?

This disorder is characterised by benign tumours called enchondromas that develop close to growth-plate cartilage, says Johannesburg orthopaedic surgeon Dr Juan Marin. “A child has cartilage in their body that grows into hard bone as they get older. The growth plate consists of cartilage. When it doesn’t harden it becomes an enchondroma."

The disease is usually diagnosed in young children and isn't hereditary. It mostly only occurs in one limb, which is usually shorter than the other. Complications include deformity, recurring fractures and weak muscles.

It's also possible the enchondroma can become malignant over time. If it starts to enlarge after puberty it usually become cancerous – especially if there's pain and recurring fractures. In this case the affected limb needs to be amputated.

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