Little Kobi back from medical mission

Letitia BusniakGeraldton Guardian

Kobi Rumble’s 2kg leg halo could not stop the excited two-year-old from running and playing like any other child on his return to Geraldton last week.

After three months in the US to treat the rare condition fibula hemimelia, meaning Kobi’s left leg was missing a fibula, half a tibia, two toes and several foot and ankle bones, the toddler and grandmother Debbie Punchard were able to return to their Drummond Cove home last Friday night.

It took two operations, hours of physiotherapy and several months abroad to treat the condition, but in a recent X-ray, the family has discovered their efforts were well worth it.

“It’s been a very long process and each day we’ve had to turn the pins in Kobi’s leg to help the bone grow,” Mrs Punchard said.

“But through it all, we wouldn’t take a second back and it’s all because of what his most recent X-ray showed.

“Kobi’s leg has now grown 5cm, meaning it perfectly matches the length of his other leg.”

It was the dream of Kobi’s late mum Chloe Rumble, who was killed in a head-on collision that her son survived, that Kobi receive treatment to save his leg as an alternative to the Australian doctor’s advice to amputate.

After Ms Rumble’s death on November 7, 2015, several days before Kobi’s first birthday, her heartbroken family made it their mission to see her dream become reality.

They spent months fundraising for the surgery, expected to cost about $250,000.

Now, after Chloe’s dreams were made true, Mrs Punchard said the family couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Grandmother Debbie Punchard, Kobi Rumble, cousin Ava Park and aunty Amie Rumble.
Camera IconGrandmother Debbie Punchard, Kobi Rumble, cousin Ava Park and aunty Amie Rumble. Credit: Letitia Busniak, The Geraldton Guardian

“It’s been worth every second because Kobi’s already doing so much better than before we left,” she said.

“He’d fall over a lot and sometimes it would be quite painful for him. Now he’s already running and playing so we can’t wait to see what’s next.

“It’s strange but he’s even speaking so much more now and we definitely feel like his confidence has grown so much during this experience.”

In more good news for the family, the Paley Institute is training two Australian doctors to remove leg halos like Kobi’s, meaning the family may not have to return to America for a follow-up visit.

Until then, Kobi will continue to have monthly X-rays in Geraldton until his bone hardens enough to remove the halo.

Mrs Punchard, who celebrated the medical success with a welcome home party, again thanked the community for their generous support.

“From the amazing doctors at the Paley Institute to the people who donated ... thank you all so much,” she said.

“Kobi’s life has changed for the better.”

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