In a heart-wrenching decision, Danielle and Michael Gibbs had to make the difficult choice of amputating their daughter Freya’s legs to spare her from enduring years of excruciating surgeries. Freya, a truly unique child, was born with an extraordinary condition, occurring only in one out of every three million children – she had no shin bones, leaving her with limited mobility, crawling on her knees.
The Gibbs, aged 27 and hailing from Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, Wales, were unaware of their baby’s condition until the day of her birth. Freya entered the world on September 7, 2017, weighing 6 pounds and 8 ounces. Initially, doctors suspected she might have clubfoot, but as they observed her legs, they realized they were bowed and immovable.
At the age of 18 months, Freya was diagnosed with tibial hemimelia, an exceedingly rare lower limb defect that occurs in approximately one in a million births. Gibbs recalls, “Her feet were in an awkward position, her knees couldn’t straighten, and her legs remained fixed.” Soon after, she was diagnosed with bilateral tibial hemimelia, meaning the condition affected both her legs. Additional tests revealed she also had a hole in her heart, although the reason behind it remains unclear.
Facing the challenging reality that their daughter might never walk due to the lack of bone development, the Gibbs had two options: allow Freya to undergo a lifetime of painful surgeries in an attempt to reconstruct her shins or make the heart-wrenching decision to amputate her legs.
Danielle, Freya’s mother, shared, “Words cannot express how proud we are of Freya. The first time she walked outside and held our hands, it felt like a miracle, and we were overwhelmed with pride. The little things most people take for granted are incredibly significant for us.” Despite their love and support, the Gibbs knew they had to make a tough call for Freya’s well-being.
“We made the heart-rending decision to have her legs removed. She smiles from ear to ear when we put her prosthetic legs on in the morning. With her legs, she knows she can go out and play. Removing Freya’s legs has, in fact, given her a freedom she would never have known otherwise. We would make the same decision again in a heartbeat. It was a difficult choice, but we believed it was better to have both of Freya’s legs amputated and let her adapt to life without them from an early age.
We could have tried spending the next 15 years undergoing endless painful operations, but we didn’t want to put her through that, only to find out later that they wouldn’t work or that she would choose amputation anyway. This way, she will never remember anything different, and we hope she will quickly adapt to life with prosthetic limbs.”
Freya’s journey showcases the strength and resilience of the human spirit, turning adversity into triumph. Despite facing unique challenges, she has overcome them with the unwavering love and support of her parents. Freya’s story serves as an inspiration to embrace life’s obstacles and find new paths to happiness and fulfillment.