He’s 19 months old, proudly wears an “I’m a Trooper” T-shirt, and like million of kids world-wide, he loves Star Wars. He even has the leg to prove it. This is the story of an adorable little boy named Benjamin Bronske and his special Stormtrooper prosthetic leg.
After a healthy pregnancy and no unusual ultrasounds, Ben’s parents were blindsided the day he was born, when they discovered his abnormal foot and learned of his diagnosis. Ben was suffering from a rare disorder called macrodactyly, which according to Seattle Children’s Hospital is a condition that “causes abnormal over growth of bones and soft tissues of the foot and toes.”
Furthermore, doctors informed Ben’s mom Sarah that “the already excessively large tissues in her son’s foot and toes would continue to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the foot.”
Neither option was good news. They could either try to salvage Ben’s foot — which would mean several surgeries and the likelihood that his foot would never look normal and he’d never wear a regular shoe — or they could amputate.
It wasn’t an easy decision by any means, but Ben’s family ultimately decided to amputate so that he would learn to walk with a prosthetic and it would be all he ever knew.
“With an amputation, it’s one and done,” shared Dr. Vincent Mosca, chief of foot and limb deformities at Seattle Children’s. “Functions like walking and running develop as if a child never had the operation in the first place. The prosthesis needs to be replaced each year to accommodate for growth of the leg, but no more surgeries need to be performed.”
Sarah tells Babble that she wanted Ben to live as normal a life as possible, and his team of doctors believed this was the best path for him to do so. And it helped that Sarah had her family’s support in making such a difficult choice.
“The overall reaction to our decision to amputate was very supportive,” she tells Babble. “Our close family and friends were all sad for him, but stood with us in our choice. We did have a few people who questioned us and the doctors, which made it hard on us, but we just stayed confident in our decision, knowing God would take care of our baby boy.”
The next step for Sarah was to design the leg. So when she saw some Stormtrooper fabric and realized her son, a member of a family who loved Star Wars, could have his very own custom-made Stormtrooper leg, she says, “It was too cool not to get.”
But the next part to this story might just be the best. Soon after little Ben returned home from the hospital, Seattle Children’s set up a special surprise: A pack of stormtroopers came marching down his street, straight to his house.
“Ben LOVES Stormtoopers,” Sarah tells Babble. “He squeals and goes ‘boom boom’ every time he sees them on TV or on things.”
And when they showed up as his front door? Well, that was just about the coolest thing ever.
“He was a little unsure of the idea of them being full-sized and up close,” Sarah says. “He at first refused to look at them, but by the end he was smiling and poking their armor.”
What a magical surprise for a special little boy who has endured more in 19 months than most people will in an entire lifetime.
The long-term goal is for Ben to run and jump and live a normal life, and his mom tells Babble that he’s already well on his way, keeping up with his older sister and friends. And as for the new Star Wars movie? Mom says it’s probably best for Ben to see it at home on DVD, but we can all be assured he’ll be first in line once it’s available.
Happy New Year to the amazing Bronske family! We hope you enjoy The Last Jedi, which is a story of love and courage — we know you can relate.