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news item News Wednesday, May 22, 2019 Wednesday, May 22, 2019 12:01 PM - Wednesday, May 22, 2019 12:01 PM

Ivy has only five toes, but you would never know it

Softball and beauty pageants, all with a partial foot amputation

When she was 4, Ivy endured a traumatic four-wheeler (ATV) accident. She was riding her family’s ATV around the backyard of her home while her 5-year-old brother drove. As Ivy was getting off the ATV, her right foot got caught in the chain and sprocket, which caused part of her foot to completely detach.

Ivy ended up being flown by helicopter to Erlanger Hospital in Tennessee, where she underwent five operations to close the wound. The damage to the foot was so intense that it could not be reattached, and Ivy spent 12 days in the hospital recovering from the amputation.

“The whole experience was traumatic and hard to grasp in the moment, but as time went on we healed, and learned that Ivy is no different than any other girl. We will always encourage and push her to see herself as normal,” said Amie, Ivy’s mom.

Shortly after being released from Erlanger Hospital, Amie called Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington. An appointment was made with Janet Walker, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, for consultation on next steps.

“Immediately upon meeting Dr. Walker I knew this was the place that Ivy needed to receive her ongoing medical care,” Amie said. “They have done everything in their power to help Ivy, and they have succeeded in providing her a full and fun life.”

Today, Ivy is a 17-year-old sophomore who plays on her high school softball team. She enjoys participating in beauty pageants throughout the state of Tennessee, and currently holds the title of Miss Tennessee Beauty Supreme.

“During pageants, when asked what the most interesting thing about me is, I respond by saying ‘I only have five toes and I am here!’” said Ivy. “I have always found comfort in humor. I can’t frown upon the fact that I only have one foot and I definitely can’t change it, so I choose laughter.”

Dr. Walker has been through many trials and celebrations with Ivy. One of those trials has been performing additional surgeries on the amputated foot. The injury caused the growth plate in the front of Ivy’s amputated foot to experience bone overgrowth. Bone overgrowth is a well-documented complication that can take place in the residual limb after a childhood amputation. Over the years, Ivy has experienced pain and skin breakdown in her partial foot, as well as poor prosthetic fitting. Dr. Walker has operated on Ivy four different times to shave off the bone overgrowth. The most recent, and hopefully final, surgery to remove bone overgrowth took place in February 2019.

“One good thing to come of this injury, I learned that no matter what I am facing that I will always find a way to succeed,” Ivy said.

During Ivy’s most recent appointment with Dr. Walker, she was excited about returning to the softball field. Dr. Walker and Ivy were working on methods to fill her right shoe for better balance so that Ivy could learn how to play catcher.

Ivy has tried multiple times to wear a prosthetic foot without much success. She said that she does not find the prosthetic comfortable and it weighs her down. Dr. Walker and Ivy recently discussed several other available options, and between the two of them they created an option for Ivy to go home and try. She plans to stick with what works best, which is using grocery bags stuffed into the toe of her shoe. “Grocery bags are always available, and it works! Why should I change it?” Ivy said as she and Dr. Walker laughed.

“Every visit I have with Dr. Walker, I always feel inspired and safe,” said Ivy. “I now want to become a nurse one day because of all the wonderful things I have seen nurses provide to their patients.”

Ivy’s body has finished growing, so the hope is that the growth plate in her residual foot will no longer experience bone overgrowth. Since the last surgery in February, Ivy has not suffered from any pain or skin breakdown. Also, because she is most comfortable not wearing a prosthetic foot, shoes are not an issue.

For the most part, Ivy is able to wear any type of shoe she prefers, including tennis shoes, high heels, flip-flops and cleats. She also enjoys walking around barefoot.

“When I am participating in pageants I wear high heels, and when I play softball I wear cleats. It just sometimes takes me trying on multiple different shoes until I find that perfect fit!” exclaimed Ivy.

Ivy has two more years before graduating high school, and plans to head straight into college to pursue a nursing degree. Along the way she plans to continue excelling in softball, and has already signed up to participate in several beauty pageants before the end of this year. Her dream is that the next time she wears a sash it will read “Miss Tennessee State.”

Doctor Walker examining Ivy's footIvy and Doctor Walker hugging