2-Year-Old Amputee Gets New Legs For Birthday

November 13, 2017
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Last Sunday Jaylen Escalera turned two and his parents have one very special wish for their little boy:  that he will walk on his new prosthetic legs on his own.

Jaylen was born with deformed hands and missing bones in his lower legs. As a result doctors at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia amputated his legs last July because his legs were not functional. They believed the operation would give him a better chance at being able to walk.

Jaylen has 6 fingers between his two c-shaped hands, one of which is cleft and he uses them to support himself after his double leg amputation left him with two little stumps.

Jessica Gooding. Jaylen’s mother said, “Just the fact that he has his prosthetic legs is great.”

Jaylen gets along with life just fine, he plays with his 4-year-old brother and throws tantrums like any other child. He is normal and doesn’t realize he has challenges.

Eric Fornari, director of pediatric orthopedic education at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore is one of Jaylen’s doctors and says that he has a condition called tibial hemimilia and proximal femoral focal deficiency. These are conditions leading to a deficiency in the tibia bone and a deformation in the hip and lower leg respectively.


Fornari says that Jaylen’s condition was most likely as a result of spontaneous genetic mutation. Limb malformations affect around one out of every 1000 children according to the National Institutions of Health, making his conditions quite rare.

Fornari said that Jaylen has “the ability to conquer any challenge that’s thrown at him. Jaylen’s mentality and temperament is strong and his motivation is very strong for a child that’s only 2-years-old.”

In relation to Jaylen taking his first unaided steps on his new legs Eric Fornari said that children are very determined. “They figure out what they want to do and how they’re going to do it regardless of any obstacles in their way,” he said.

Timothy Conly, Jaylen’s occupational therapist also agreed with Eric saying that the toddler has a very upbeat spirit and sees no reason why the boy couldn’t walk. “If he’s motivated for it, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do it,” he said.

Jessica recalls the heartbreaking time the doctors told her Jaylen was deformed, it was six months into her pregnancy and they suggested a termination. However, she looked for a new doctor and decided to keep her baby.

Jessica and her sons share a three bedroom apartment with her mother, sister and brother in the Bronx. Jaylen’s father Israel lives with his own family, but together with Jessica they hope to get a place and a car of their own to help ease the chaos of their lives.

Jessica and Israel have worked together from the very beginning to help Jaylen be comfortable in his body and they don’t want him to think he is any different from anyone else. They started him getting used to the feeling of large objects in his hands from an early age and have taught him to ignore people who stare at him in public.


“I just want him to embrace who he is,” Jessica said.

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