Havynn Jayne Bradshaw is an adorable, petite, high-spirited, 5-year-old kindergartner with dark blonde pigtails and sparkling eyes. Her life is about to change. Tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 11,) the little girl will undergo an operation in which both of her legs will be amputated at her knees.
What sounds like a tragedy is actually what her parents believe will be her best chance for a future with less pain and more opportunity. Her parents, Darae and Duke Browner, are scared and nervous, but also hopeful.
Havynn was born with bilateral clubfeet and Anrhrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, better known as AMC. AMC describes congenital joint contracture in two or more areas of the body. What that has meant for Havynn is that the joints of her hips, knees, ankles and toes do not work correctly.
Her knees do not allow her to straighten her legs and she cannot lay flat on her stomach because her hips do not straighten. The muscles in her legs have not developed normally and the deformation in her joints and tendons makes it impossible for her to walk.
“She does not have the ability to move her ankles or toes and her feet are still bowed in the wrong direction after two years of casts, braces and two tendon-release surgeries to try and help straighten her legs,” Havynn’s mom said. Without the amputation, those types of surgeries would continue to be a regular thing.
“Every time we get her legs straightened out pretty well, she goes through a growth spurt and we’re back to square one,” Havynn’s dad explained.
“We have decided to go the route of amputation because it will be much less trauma and a 100 percent higher chance of success at her gaining her freedom to walk and run and play,” said Havynn’s mom Darae Browner. “She has already been through more than any child her age ought to have to suffer — but she’s smart and she’s healthy, so that’s what matters most. We just want her to have a happy, full and successful life and this seems like the best route we have.”
Havynn’s parents came to the conclusion to move forward with amputation after meeting another child with the same condition, whose parents had made the decision to have her lower legs amputated when she was 6 years old. That girl is 10 years old now — strong and spunky. She’s on swim team, rides horses, and does gymnastics.
“Havynn’s doctor, Dr. Joel Lerman at the Shriner’s Hospital in Sacramento, will be performing a knee disarticulation dual amputation. Disarticulation means doing the surgery by going through Havynn’s knees and will not include cutting through the large bone of her femurs. This should give her a shorter recuperation.
After her surgery tomorrow, she and her parents will stay in Sacramento until Jan. 15, then come home to Winnemucca. Havynn will have to be taken back to Sacramento once a week for four to six weeks until her legs fully heal and she can be set up for prosthetics.
The first step after her legs heal from the surgery will be to have “shorties,” that will be custom-made to fit onto Havynn’s knees by Shriner’s Hospital. Shorties are styrofoam cups that go on the knee and have a hard protective bottom. Havynn will learn to walk, using the shorties. If she falls, she’ll be a lot closer to the ground.
The shorties will help Havynn learn how to balance and how to walk in an upright position. After she has learned that — and grown stronger, she will be ready for prosthetic legs. Her prosthetic legs will be made by the Hangar Clinic in Reno. Learning to use them will be a challenge, but Havynn is used to challenges and her parents don’t baby her.
Havynn is a charmer. Her mom says she has to warn Havynn’s teachers not to get drawn in to giving her special treatment. She encourages Havynn’s teachers to push her to work hard, do her best and behave. Havynn is a kindergartner at Grass Valley School.
Havynn gets around very well now by scooting and crawling on the smooth laminate floors of her home. She’s very fast and funny as she shows off her skills. At school, she uses a wheel chair. The post-surgery physical therapy and practice she will need to do to gain strength and balance will be plenty difficult. “We’re hoping she’ll be able to learn to walk but a lot of that will depend on her,” her mom said. “The push to do it will have to come from her.”
Go Fund Me account set up to help family with expenses
Havynn Bradshaw and her family received some help some time ago through a “Go-fund-me” account, mostly to pay for her wheelchair. Now her surgery will mean a five-day stay in Sacramento, with multiple trips back and forth afterward and trips for fitting prosthetic legs.
Dad will go back to work soon after the surgery, as he’s recently started a new job with a local mine. Mom will take what leave time she has and grandma will help out.
“Havynn won’t be able to put any weight on her legs for at least two weeks after surgery and from the surgery on, it will be just the two of us because we can’t have income completely disappearing,” Darae Browner said. “I get paid family leave for six weeks but I know all the healing and physical therapy will take longer than that. We can’t lose the house she lives in or the food in the cupboards, so we’ll be trying to figure things out as we go.”
The insurance plan under which Havynn is covered has a $7,000 deductible that has to be paid out of pocket, before medical costs begin be reimbursed, then the policy pays 80 percent. Travel costs and food are out of pocket. Havynn’s mom or dad will be able to stay with her at the hospital and whoever isn’t with her, can stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Sacramento.
Havynn’s Go Fund Me account has a full explanation of her challenges. To reach it, type gofundme.com/havynnbradshaw. There is also a donation account through US Bank called Havynn’s Life Funds. People can deposit on-line through donation accounts or directly through a teller at the bank.
Havynn’s mom said, “Everyone gets down sometimes and needs emotional support too." She extended an invitation for anyone who wants to call or text, or maybe even meet Havynn in person. “Thank you for anything and everything — prayers are the best,” she said.