Sonia Paua, from Papua New Guinea has chronic osteomyelitis, an infection in the bone, that has left her with poor mobility and daily pain.

“Sonia’s deformity is the result of surgeries in PNG when she was younger to remove the diseased bone and related scarring and skin contracture,” says Professor Minoo Patel, Epworth Orthopaedic surgeon.

“Unfortunately, this all happened while she was still growing, so her limb is deformed both at the bone and the joint, and it is shorter as well.”

Epworth, in partnership with the Children’s First Foundation, is working to change Sonia’s life by providing pro-bono surgery.

“It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait,” says Sonia.

“Soon I will be walking straight, without a crutch, and I won’t be embarrassed anymore. My family will be really happy and proud of me when I arrive home, standing up straight.

The procedures, Sonia’s hospital stay, Professor Patel’s fees as well as the equipment and prosthesis were all provided at no cost to Sonia’s family.

Sonia requires multiple surgeries, the first of which was in February 2020 when Sonia underwent a three-and-a-half-hour operation to re-align her leg, including the insertion of a cutting-edge device to gradually lengthen and regenerate the bone by millimetres every day.

Since the operation, Sonia has regained an incredible 12 centimetres in length which is exciting for both Sonia and Professor Patel.

Sonia has two further surgeries and extensive rehabilitation ahead of her, but she’s so excited at the chance to ‘walk straight up’ again.

“Sometimes, I still can’t believe it,” she said.

“I can’t believe I’m going to be fixed!”

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