A mother whose daughter has one leg half the length of the other has vowed to save the two-year-old’s limb, vowing ‘amputation is not an option.’
Zahra Zulfiqar was born without her calf bone in her right leg, meaning it is 15cm shorter than her left one.
This makes it difficult for her to walk and instead, she crawls like a baby to get around.
Over the past two years, as she has grown, she has worn prosthetics of increasing lengths to bridge the growing difference in the size of her limbs.
Doctors say by the time she stops growing her right leg will be 30cm shorter than her left, and that amputating it is recommended so she can wear a prosthetic.
But her mother Rehana Qadir, 27, refuses to accept this option.
Mrs Qadir, from Dagenham, east London, said: ‘Due to Zahra’s condition being so rare and severe, doctors say there’s no treatment available.
‘They’ve all said their only option is to amputate her leg and for her to wear a prosthetic.’
But Mrs Qadir refuses to accept this drastic solution.
She said: ‘Amputation is not an option for us. If her leg can be fixed, it will be.
‘Zahra is a very cheerful, happy and easy going child. She hides her pain behind her laughs and smiles.
‘But she’s growing up and she’s started to lose confidence.
‘She wants to join in and play with her sister, Emaan, but she can’t keep up.’
Zahra was a surprise baby for stay-at-home mother Mrs Qadir, who didn’t realise she was pregnant for five months.
The implant had caused her to gain weight, so her pregnancy bump was hidden by her tummy.
It wasn’t until Mrs Qadir needed the loo every 10 minutes that she realised she might be pregnant.
Despite the shock, she and her husband, Zulfiqar Majeed, 31, were thrilled.
But at Mrs Qadir’s first scan, at 20 weeks, the sonographer spotted that their baby was missing her calf bone – or fibula – a condition known as fibula hemimelia.
Zahra was also diagnosed with a second condition called proximal femoral focal deficiency when she was around eight months old, after doctors initially thought she had a dislocated hip.
This rare condition meant the end of the thigh bone closest to her hip was too short, and her hip was deformed.
Doctors said as she grew, this would cause her foot to turn out.
Zahra was also diagnosed with a second condition called proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD). This rare condition meant the end of the thigh bone closest to her hip was too short, and her hip was deformed (pictured after surgery to improve her hip joint)
The two-year-old struggles to walk and crawls on the floor like a baby to get around. She wears a prosthetic leg, but finds it hard wearing it as her ankle and foot are turned out (right)
When Zahra was born at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, in October 2013, weighing 8.5lbs (almost 4kg), the difference between her limbs wasn’t especially obvious.
But as she grew the gap increased until she had to tiptoe on her shorter leg.
Then, at six months old, she was fitted with prosthetics which she has worn ever since.
In November 2015, Zahra had surgery to put a metal plate into her hip in order to fix the deformed ball and socket joint.
The surgery was successful but the metal plate began to slice through the bones and pins, causing her great pain.
So, In April 2016, she had another operation to have the plate removed.
Her mother said: ‘At first she was managing well on prosthetics, when the difference in the length of her legs wasn’t so much.
‘Now she doesn’t like them and finds it easier getting around crawling.
‘She finds it hard wearing them with her ankle and foot turned out.’
Virtually out of options in the UK, the family began to look for help further afield.
In April this year, they found a doctor in Florida called Dr Dror Paley, who has helped other children like Zahra and could potentially lengthen her leg.
Over the past two years, Zahra has worn prosthetics of increasing lengths to bridge the growing difference in the size of her limbs
Doctors say by the time she is fully grown, there will be a 30cm difference in Zahra’s legs and they recommend amputation so she can wear a prosthetic. She is pictured with her family, mother Rehana Qadir, father Zulfiqar Majeed and sister Emaan
In the UK, doctors said they could lengthen it by 15cm, but Dr Paley claims he can make it even longer.
The process will involve splitting the tibia – the shin bone – and fitting it with pins that pierce through her skin.
Then, twice a day, her mother will need to turn these to pull the bones apart.
With time, new bone, muscle and skin will grow in place, lengthening the limb.
Doctors are also hoping to be able to correct her hip and realign her foot and ankle so they no longer turn out.
Determined for Zahra to have the operation, her parents have set up a GoFundMe page to help gather costs.
Mrs Quadir is determined that her daughter’s leg will not be amputated and has launched a fundraising page to raise £150,000 to take Zahra to the US for leg-lengthening surgery
In total, they are hoping to raise £150,000 to pay for surgery and a three month stay in the US.
Mrs Qadir said: ‘Dr Paley is an expert in limb lengthening. Even doctors we’ve spoken to in the UK know him and they say, if anybody could take Zahra’s case on, it’s him, he’s amazing.
‘And we’ve contacted other parents on Facebook and know of one child who had his leg lengthened by 45cms.
‘Zahra’s prosthetic leg hurts her, it isn’t comfortable to wear, and she takes it off every ten minutes.
‘We want to take her to America to save her leg so she can lead a normal life.’