It is every pregnant woman’s worst nightmare to be told during a scan that there is a problem with the baby.
Esther Rowland and husband Paul were dismayed when the sonographer carrying out their 20-week pregnancy scan told them there was a problem, and went to get a doctor.
Esther, 40, who lives in Haighton, near Preston, and is a dairy farmer along with her husband, recalls: “When they said there was a problem with the baby, we were really concerned.
“The doctor came to speak to us and told us that our baby had a condition called talipes, which is commonly known as club foot, and that it was affecting both his feet.
“We were warned that club feet could be an indicator for other conditions such as Down’s Syndrome.
“The only question I remember asking was ‘Will he be able to walk?’ and the doctor told us he would and his treatment would begin after birth.”
Daniel was born at the Royal Preston Hospital, and his parents could see the problem with his feet straight away.
Esther explains: “Daniel’s legs were straight, but his feet were pointing at almost a right angle.”
Daniel, who is now eight, began the start of what was to be intensive treatment to correct his feet when he was just 13 days old.
Esther remembers: “Daniel began a treatment known as the Ponseti method, which involved both his legs being put into a plaster cast up to his thighs, with the aim of manipulating his feet back to where they should be.
“Each week, we would go into hospital, have the plaster cast removed and Daniel would be able to be bathed, and then they would put him back in plaster again.
“This went on for about three months.”
Daniel then had to undergo surgery on the tendons at the back of his legs to make them more flexible, and then was put back into plaster for four weeks.
After coming out of plaster, he had to wear special boots for 23 hours night and day, which were angled to keep his feet in the right position.
Daniel did this for about three months before coming out of the boots during the day. However, he had to carry on wearing them until the age of four-and-a-half.
Esther says: “It was worse when Daniel was a baby, as he would slip his feet out of the boots.
“But as he got older, he grew more accepting that this is what he had to do.”
Daniel’s club feet did not hold him back, and he began walking at 11 months.
Esther explains: “To look at Daniel, you would never know there was anything wrong, as his condition does not hold him back at all.
“It is only apparent when he runs as he runs on his tiptoes. But even that is getting a lot better.”
When Daniel was five, his feet began turning in again. He then had to have further surgery to transfer his tendons. Daniel now wears Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFOs) which are like a hard plastic boot moulded to the legs, which he has to wear every night to re-shape his feet.
Esther and Paul, who also have a five-year-old son Jack, say they are very proud of Daniel for the way he has dealt with his condition and treatment.
Esther says: “Daniel is a real chatterbox and livewire, and has been brilliant throughout his treatment.
“He runs and jumps and does everything like any other child, and has never complained about what he has to go through.
“He is so positive and happy all the time, and we are very proud of him.”
For her 40th birthday, Esther had a party and asked people to make donations for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and a charity called STEPS, a national cause supporting children and adults affected by lower limb conditions such as club foot.
Esther says: “Since the day Daniel was born, we’ve been given support from our physio and the charity STEPS.
“They have been amazing, and I don’t know what we would have done without their help. I just wanted to give something back.”
Daniel decided to organise a raffle at his mum’s birthday party and raised £170.