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Physician gives South African boy hope of walking

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2013 at 9:40 am •  Published: February 8, 2013

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Bright-eyed 2-year-old Andre de Guisti marches down a hallway with his walker.

With continued physical therapy, the South African toddler may be able to walk unaided one day. It's a future he may never have had without the help of a Saginaw Township surgeon, reported ( ).

Andre, who turns 3 in February, was born with both hips dislocated from their sockets and other leg problems. Finding appropriate medical care was difficult for his parents, Amore and Dino de Guisti of Alberton, South Africa.

That journey brought the family 8,524 miles in 2010 to Saginaw County to see Dr. Anthony DeBari, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopaedic Center of Mid-Michigan.

Andre was born with sacral agenesis, a disorder that affects the development of the lower spine and pelvis. Along with his hip problem, Andre had contracted knees and his nerves didn't extend to his feet, DeBari said.

The de Guisti family saw more than 10 orthopedic surgeons in South Africa and were told there was nothing the physicians could do except amputate, Dino de Guisti said.

But then the family learned Dr. Arno Weiss, a plastic surgeon from Saginaw, was visiting in their country. The de Guistis met with him, and Weiss put the family in contact with DeBari, who specialists in pediatric orthopedics.

After seeing photos and video, DeBari determined he could help the boy. Within months, the family came to Saginaw. Three days later, DeBari operated.

Amore de Guisti said she was surprised with the quick timeline, but the family was excited for their son to have the care he needed. In a two-hour surgery, DeBari and Covenant HealthCare's operating team put Andre's hips back in place and lengthened tendons in his knees and toes.

The family stayed with the Weiss family for two months, much longer than the two-week visit the de Guisti's originally had anticipated.

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