Some children face unfortunate obstacles during their early years. This was certainly the case for Aldrin, a young boy from the Philippines who was born with a congenital knee deformity. But while the boy’s early experiences had been hindered by this deformity, his life would eventually change forever with the help of American sports star Tim Tebow.
Across the globe, there are many families that can’t afford essential healthcare – especially those living in developing countries. Tim Tebow saw this first-hand as a youngster, as he was born in the Philippines, where his parents worked as missionaries. This experience ensured that Tebow grew up with a desire to help people – but there was one encounter in particular that shaped his entire outlook.
“At the age of 15, I visited a remote village that had never seen visitors,” Tebow recalled on the Tim Tebow Foundation website. “There, I met a boy named Sherwin, who would impact my life more than anyone I have ever met. Sherwin was born with his feet on backwards and was viewed as ‘cursed’ in his village.”
With that in mind, Tebow decided to act. “When the people saw me hold Sherwin, they realized that the good news of Jesus Christ applies to everyone,” the sportsman continued. “It was then that my passion grew to help people.” Indeed, in January 2010 – as his star was continuing to rise in the NFL – Tebow began to act upon his passion.
The quarterback set up the Tim Tebow Foundation, which was created to help unfortunate children across the Philippines and America. The foundation would later go on to form a partnership with non-profit organization CURE International. And together, the two opened a hospital in the Southeast Asian country in 2014.
What’s more, the Tebow CURE Hospital has enjoyed great success since its opening. Indeed, the Davao City facility has performed over 2,000 successful operations for children in need, proving its worth to the people and communities it serves.
Dr. Tim Mead served as the medical director of that hospital, following a long spell in a similar position at a CURE facility in Kenya. An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Mead put his skills to use during his time with the organization, helping a variety of people. However, in January 2018, he faced a big challenge.
Youngster Aldrin had arrived at the Tebow CURE Hospital, looking to correct an issue that had plagued him since birth. “Aldrin has a problem called congenital knee dislocation,” Dr. Mead wrote on his CURE blog in February 2018. “Essentially, Aldrin’s knee bends the wrong way, like a flamingo.”
“When we see children with knees like this early, we can often cast the knees and improve them,” Dr. Mead continued. “If they fail to correct, then surgery will help.”
Aldrin suffered some bullying at school as a result of his condition before people grew accustomed to it. Even then, however, he faced problems, as his mother Claire recalled on CURE’s website. “He has a hard time walking long distances,” she said, “and he can only stand for ten minutes until his legs start hurting.”
“We don’t have anybody in our family line that has the same situation as him,” Claire continued. “But we were told that his deformity was genetic. He was born with [the] deformity, and his legs were so deformed. He is definitely a rare case – we know that for sure.”
Thankfully for Aldrin, Dr. Mead had plenty of experience performing the surgery he needed to correct his legs. “We [faced] four big hurdles,” the doctor wrote in his blog. “Contracted skin on the front of the knee, a dislocated joint, a shortened quadriceps tendon, and a twisted distal femur (thigh bone at knee).”
Following several hours in surgery, however, Aldrin’s operation was completed successfully. Then Dr. Mead and his colleagues placed the child’s legs into casts. Even so – and despite all their hard work – the orthopedic surgeon admitted that his patient’s road to recovery would be a long one.
Over the course of the next few months, Aldrin faced hours of physical therapy, for example. And as he attempted to walk on his legs, CURE followed the boy’s recovery closely, updating his story on its website each time he visited the hospital. However, in April 2018 – and after some grueling work – Aldrin made some significant progress.
With the aid of a walker and some leg braces, the young boy was able to take a few steps – much to the delight of the hospital staff. And as time passed, he showed more encouraging signs, culminating in a big day in June 2018. At that point, the 11-year-old was sent home to get back into the swing of his daily life.
Then, when he returned to the hospital in July 2018, Aldrin was given some new leg braces. These allowed him to bend his surgically repaired knees. After informing Claire how they worked, the staff sent the pair home again. And later that month, their incredible story went viral.
Aldrin’s journey was covered by Fox News in America, detailing his road to recovery at the Tebow CURE Hospital. As for the Tim Tebow Foundation itself, it also took a closer look at the boy’s story, with the organization ultimately releasing a video about the tale.
“When [Aldrin] had surgery, it was okay, because their staff gave us encouragement, and they take care of us very well,” Claire said in the video. “They encourage me and gave me strength that God knows and has an idea on what is best for him. God is in control, just like your doctors and whatever is good for Aldrin.”
In August 2018 Aldrin returned to the hospital again for another check-up, but his situation looked very bright. By this point, the 11-year-old had returned to school – though he still faces more physical therapy sessions in the near future to strengthen his leg muscles.
As for Aldrin’s surgeon, Dr. Mead eventually retired from his role at CURE in 2018, bringing an end to a partnership that lasted close to 20 years. Meanwhile, Tebow himself commented on the boy’s story in a video later that summer, highlighting the work of the hospital. “Everyday,” he said, “lives are being changed at the Tebow CURE Hospital, and I’m so thankful for that.”