“Nothing felt quite right until we came here.”
“We had no idea,” said Tyler Yost. “We saw his three toes and it was just … you’re just heartbroken and you’re happy. It was crazy.”
When the Yost family welcomed their second son, Arlo, they never expected him to be anything less than completely healthy. So when he was born missing two toes on his left foot and the fibula in his left leg—a rare condition known as fibular hemimelia—they had to adjust quickly, traveling across the country to find the best care for him as he grew.
“We went all over the United States, really,” said Arlo’s mom, Emily. “We’re from Indianapolis. Saw some physicians there. They all recommended amputation. We went and saw a specialist down in West Palm Beach. He wanted to do some lengthening procedures. We went to a hospital in Chicago, but we didn’t really have a good feel for it, so we decided to try Lexington, knowing it’s about three hours away. And we just fell in love with it here.”
“Nothing felt quite right until we came here,” said Tyler, Arlo’s dad. “We scheduled the amputation in Chicago and we were just like, one more place, you know? We need one more view. And we came down here and met Dr. Talwalkar and it was over. We were like, ‘Yep, this is where we’re going.’ We canceled the surgery in Chicago and then we planned on coming here.”
One of the deciding factors for the Yosts was the procedure offered at Kentucky Children’s Hospital through their pediatric orthopaedic collaboration with Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center–Lexington. While most of the other hospitals the Yosts looked at were only offering amputation options for Arlo, Dr. Vishwas Talwalkar at Shriners and the team at Kentucky Children’s Hospital offered something different.
“They wanted to do what’s called a Boyd amputation where they keep the heel bone,” said Emily. “Because of that, we felt it was a better fit for Arlo, knowing that he’s probably going to be a big kid. Knowing that he’ll have that as the weightbearing surface going forward was a real win for us. And we just love Dr. Talwalkar, as well. He really interacts with Arlo and that was important to us. We wanted someone who seemed to really care about him and not just the medical part of it.”
A happy, active baby, Arlo’s procedure allowed him to be mobile almost immediately. “Arlo is a wild man,” said Emily. “Within three days, he was crawling. Within five days, he was walking, essentially, cruising along the couch, beating up on that cast.” Arlo’s enthusiastic activity actually ended up breaking his cast, requiring a quick trip back down to Lexington for repair work. He’s since been fitted with a prosthetic that will be replaced as he grows. Since the procedure was done at such a young age, Arlo learned to walk with his prosthetic, and he’s able to walk normally with it.
“Absolutely we will be a lifetime family here,” said Emily. “He’ll require a prosthetic every year to 18 months. So we’ll continue to travel down here and hang out. We love it.”
“It comes down to just the love they have for other people, you know?” said Tyler. “Just the love they have for their patients. Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve never really truly got that feeling until we came here. We just felt welcomed. The doctors here are amazing.”
“This is why we went with UK HealthCare and Shriners here,” said Emily. “They’ve gone above and beyond to show us so much love and support, beyond just Arlo’s medical care. We just felt it immediately—the nurses picked Arlo up and loved on him. It’s that Southern hospitality that we weren’t feeling at other hospitals around the country that we visited. Dr. Talwalkar even let [Arlo’s big brother] Ezra be his assistant, gloved him up, held all the gauze, and let him be a doctor for the day. It’s just unlike any other place we’ve been. It’s just incredible. Incredible.”