Auckland family spends $400k to help daughter's leg grow 8cm

Four-year-old Lydia has a rare birth defect where one leg is shorter than the other.
Four-year-old Lydia has a rare birth defect where one leg is shorter than the other. Photo credit: Facebook / Lydia's Journey to Two Feet on the Ground

An Auckland family has spent about $400,000 to help their young daughter's leg grow 8cm.

Lydia Golding, 4, was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a rare and non-hereditary birth defect that affects the pelvis, in particular the hip bone and the proximal femur, which results in a deformed hip and a shortened leg.

Lydia's defect meant her right leg was 14cm shorter than the other, but after an operation and a long recovery process ahead, her shorter leg has been lengthened by 8cm.

Her mother, Lauren, says the family is taking each day "one step at a time", both literally and figuratively.

Lydia's surgery was completed in November last year and cost $275,000, however, the family had to travel to Florida so they could see the right doctor with specialist skills to do it, 7News reports.

In order to get there, they spent $7000 on flights. They also chose to relocate to Florida for a year for Lydia's recovery process, meaning they had to pay about $48,000 for a year's worth of rent.

Lauren's husband, Hamish, flew to Florida with their two-year-old daughter Rose to help them get set up, but he needed to return to New Zealand to work so will be separated from his family for a year.

At times, Lydia needs daily physio at the Florida clinic, so the family anticipates they won't be able to return home until at least October.

She is set to have a second surgery later this year which will cost the family about $65,000 and will have more every three years in the lead up to her 16th birthday.

"She will have another three or four lengthenings before the age of 16," Lauren told 7News.

According to a Givealittle page set up for Lydia and her family, she has worn a prosthesis since she was 14 months old. But since her knee is up by her hip causing her to walk with a large dipping gait, a prosthesis has become difficult to make.

Before Lydia had her surgery, doctors put pins in her leg so they could manually lengthen it. Lauren says there were 12 pins in her leg, some on her hips, in her femur, and in her knee.

Her leg was stretched by 0.75mm a day, and in two weeks it had gained 1cm.

"The bone has been cut there. When you turn the dial it stretches the devices [and stretches the leg]," Lauren says.

The rehabilitation process has been hard for Lydia, with Lauren saying she "screams blue murder" during physio.

"We've definitely had an emotional rollercoaster."

Lydia's Givealittle has raised nearly $55,000 over the past year.