When Aiden Thompson takes to the baseball field, he not only looks like he belongs there, he plays like he belongs there. Aiden is a natural athlete who happens to wear a prosthesis, as well as a pair of cleats, but one would never know thanks to a decision his parents made long before his first T-ball game.
“We had no idea something was wrong with Aiden’s leg until after he was born,” said mom, Amy Thompson of Poland, Ohio. “We had a brand new baby with a birth defect that required us to make a life-altering, or so we thought at the time, decision…we knew we couldn’t let our pride get in the way of what was best for our son’s situation.”
Aiden was born without the fibula bone in his left leg, a defect that would cause quality of life issues for him long into adulthood. His parents were faced with a huge decision. One option was to save his leg, which would require multiple surgeries, including bone and skin grafts, over the course of his life. The other choice was to remove his leg, from the knee down, which would require one surgery and a foot prosthesis.
“Our pediatrician put us in touch with Dr. (Kerwyn) Jones just after Aiden was born,” said Amy. “We met with him monthly so he could monitor Aiden’s progress and discuss our questions and concerns about both options. We felt comfortable with Dr. Jones from day one…He encouraged us to get a second opinion so we felt informed about all the possible options, from a variety of experts, and know we covered all the bases.”
With the decision weighing heavy on their hearts and minds, the Thompsons did get a second opinion but chose to keep Aiden’s care with Dr. Jones.
Aiden, meanwhile, wasn’t waiting around for a decision to be made. He started rolling, crawling and even walking, showing off his strength, determination and resilience at a young age.
At 13 months old, the Thompson’s made the decision to have Aiden’s lower limb amputated and fitted for a prosthesis.
“An elective amputation is an enormous decision and involves more consideration than physical mechanics and quality of life concerns. It also includes a thoughtful understanding of the social and emotional impact it will have on a child and family,” said Dr. Kerwyn Jones, chairman of orthopedics at Akron Children’s Hospital. “In Aiden’s situation, his parents made the decision for him at a young age so he’s never known life without a prosthesis which, in many ways, has helped his recovery and ability to thrive.”
Aiden had a successful amputation procedure and, in just 2-days time, was measured for his prosthesis and sent home to finish his recovery without ever needing a day of physical therapy.
“It (amputation) is a decision no parent ever wants to make,” said Amy. “We wanted Aiden to have a normal life – run and ride bikes with his big brother – and Dr. Jones assured us he’d be able to do all those things and, boy, was he right. Aiden is a natural athlete, which became apparent when he got up and started moving around within days of the procedure.”
Over the years, Aiden has become passionate about sports. He participates in travel baseball, basketball and flag football.
“If you see him on the field or court, you’d never know he has a prosthesis. He’s competitive and runs and jumps with ease,” added Amy.
Now 11, Aiden has his leg examined yearly. Dr. Jones checks the incision, prosthesis and his hip alignment, a common side effect for amputees, to ensure he’s growing comfortably.
“When Aiden was younger we went through several prostheses, which can be hard to get adjusted just right,” said Amy. “Now, his prosthesis is fitted with a lengthening rod that allows us to extend it bit by bit as he grows without needing a replacement every time he grows.”
Today, Aiden is not only Dr. Jones’ patient, but also an Akron Children’s and amputee supporter. He’s helped Dr. Jones and Youngstown State University raise money for the hospital through fundraisers, and serves as a batboy and fan at the annual Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball game at Canal Park in Akron.
“Dr. Jones, to us, is like an angel on earth,” said Amy. “He was the person who took care of Aiden, as well as my husband and I, and has gotten us to the point we are today. Without him, I don’t know where Aiden would be. The two have really bonded over the years and talk like old friends. We’re so grateful for Dr. Jones’ care and supporting our decision to do what was best for Aiden.”