When Lauren Doucet looked at her newborn daughter all she saw was her beautiful baby.
“When I saw her, I was just in awe,” Doucet said. “I was just so in love.”
But the moment was cut short when the doctor whisked off her baby for special care because Chloe was missing part of her right hand and foot.
“That was the longest eight hours before I got to see my baby again,” the Luling resident recalled. “When I finally was able to see her, she was hooked up to all these monitors and the doctors were there. They told me this was caused by Amniotic Band Syndrome.”
It’s a rare syndrome that occurs when the fetus becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development. In Chloe’s case, she was born without part of her right arm and leg, which didn’t show in the ultrasound although her mother said knowing it would not have affected her decision to have her baby.
“This was my first baby,” Doucet said. “All I cared about was how does her heart or her lungs look or how’s her brain forming?”
Despite worried looks on her family’s faces and pressure to decide so much about her daughter so quickly, she stayed focused on Chloe and how she was going to do amazing things.
Doucet found Early Steps with Ellen Gassen as her physical therapist at home, who has become so beneficial to Chloe that she considers her family.
At nine months old, Chloe got her first prosthetic leg.
“When they put that on, right away she was learning how to stand up and Ms. Ellen saw that,” Doucet said. Gassen told her, “Nothing is going to stop her.”
More prosthetic legs followed, however, and they did slow her down.
Doucet sought an alternative, which she found with Brittany Vicknair at Prosthetic & Orthodic Associates (POA) in Metairie who she calls “our angel.”
“We have been praying for Chloe to be able to run and walk so much more than she was,” said her mother. “When Vickie saw her, she said, ‘Let’s get her started now’ and replaced her stiff leg with one far more mobile that lets her bend her knee.”
POA has partnered with a group called 50 Legs, a group dedicated to providing amputees with needed care and prosthetics that they couldn’t afford without help.
Within 24 hours of applying for help – it came.
Chloe got two legs – the “walking leg” that bends at the knee and her “running leg” that resembles the u-shaped leg that runners use in races.
“She puts it on and my baby is running to me,” she said. “She tells me, ‘I’m winning’ and she got into my arms and she said, ‘I won.’”
The running leg is her favorite and it’s no wonder for a child so full of energy.
“I know my baby is going to go far,” Doucet said. “Now they see what I’ve been seeing … she’s dancing with Dance Unlimited in Destrehan and riding horses with Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center. Chloe loves to ride and she loves to dance.”
“She puts it on and my baby is running to me. She tells me, ‘I’m winning’ and she got into my arms and she said, ‘I won.” – Lauren Doucet
Now at age 5, Doucet said little Chloe is starting to tell her story to people, saying, “You know how God made you special, he made me special, too.”
Doucet said this is amazing because her daughter has come a long way.
“My daughter is limitless,” she said. “She will take this world by storm. People say how blessed she is, but I’m the one who’s blessed because God gave her to me.”
- The group aims to provide care and prosthetics to people who could not otherwise afford it and to help them live a happier and healthier life.
- It was one of the groups that helped victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
- Steve Chamberland, a former semi-pro football player, amateur hockey player and pro wrestler founded the group.