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Mason of Cedar Point sits among more than 150 pounds of pop tops destined for Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago. Mason was born with a rare birth defect and will need a unique surgical operation performed next month. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock Oglesby Elementary School district teachers (from left) Mary Kay Keutzer, Mary Ellen Lopatic, Jan Benning and principal Cindy Pozzi stand behind student Mason Kofoid, 5, and more than 150 pounds of pop tops that will be donated to Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago.
Matt and Rose Kofoid welcomed their newborn son Mason into the world on Nov. 19, 2007. But what should have been a completely joyous event suddenly turned troubling when nurses at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru, began acting oddly. Mason was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency or PFFD for short. It’s a rare birth defect that affects the pelvis and either leg. For Mason, it means he was born without the majority of the big bone in his left thigh called the femur. Under an X-ray, Mason has maybe one-inch of femur bone which immediately attaches to a knee joint. From there, his tibia and fibula connect to his foot, which reaches no longer than his right knee. It’s a non-hereditary birth defect that science does not fully understand. “We were shocked,” Rose recalled. “We went to many different hospitals and all of them wanted to amputate his leg and leave him crippled. They said there was no way he would ever walk or stand.” The Kofoids of Cedar Point spent many weeks feverishly looking for doctors who could help Mason but their search continued to come up empty until a nurse at IVCH suggested they contact Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Chicago — a hospital that specializes in treating children who have a host of orthopedic and neuromusculoskeletal conditions, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate. After a short consultation with family, the Shriner hospital staff knew exactly what to do. Doctors outlined an 18-year plan for Mason that would involve surgeries and prosthetics. His first prosthesis was placed on him that day. A short time later, while posing for 1-year-old pictures at a local portrait studio, Mason stood on his own for the first time. “I told the photographer to hurry up and take the picture, I don’t care if he’s smiling he’s never stood before,” Rose said. Eight months later, Mason was walking and running with little problems aside from occasional falling down due to the clumsy prosthesis. “The minute he did that and then started walking later, we knew things were going to be OK,” Matt Kofoid said. Mason’s next major surgery is Feb. 21 when he will have the Van Ness Rotation Plasty done. The procedure requires a surgeon and his team to permanently turn Mason’s foot 180 degrees and reattach it backwards where his knee would otherwise be located. This will allow his ankle to work in the same motion as a knee joint, giving him greater and more natural flexibility for his next prosthesis. Registered nurse Kathy Schroeder of Shriner’s said the procedure will allow Mason to walk normally among his peers. Also, with the right amount of determination, he’ll be able to run, ride bikes, roller blade and whatever else he wants to do. “There can be complications because at his age his foot and leg will grow and want to turn back,” she said. “So we might have to do another surgery in the future. But otherwise, this procedure is very successful and he’ll basically be able to do whatever he wants so long as he works at it.” That’s a far brighter future prognosis than what originally was told to the Kofoids shortly after Mason’s birth. Consequently, the family has been overwhelmed by the kindness and professionalism Shriners Hospital has shown them, and especially Mason, which has caused them to want to do something to assist the hospital. Lincoln and Washington schools in Oglesby already had been fundraising for philanthropic organizations through their pop top campaign. Teacher Mary Kay Keutzer suggested this year’s donation go to the hospital for their care of Mason and everyone agreed it was a perfect idea. “We run the pop top campaign every year so if we have a connection to an organization we’ll donate directly to them,” said Oglesby Elementary School District principal Cindy Pozzi. “If there is no local connection, we donate to other charities that help children.” On their next visit, the Kofoids will bring Shriners Hospital more than 150 pounds of pop can tops that will be recycled for cash. Shriners use the cash to purchase medical equipment or entertainment for their patients. “Everyone has been so amazing that we just felt like we should find a way to give back,” Rose Kofoid said.
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