Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Whitmore!
Dec 4, 2009 5:18 pm US/Central
MN Couple Donation Intended To Continue Doc's WorkIOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) ― The gift from Bob and Molly Whitmore of Eden Prairie to the Ponseti International Association is intended to let more children around the world benefit from the work of famed orthopedic surgeon Ignacio Ponseti.
A Minnesota couple has given $1 million to an association that trains doctors and nurses to treat clubfoot with a method developed by former University of Iowa surgeon Ignacio Ponseti.
Ponseti developed a low-cost, non-surgical alternative to treat clubfoot, a genetic defect that leaves children unable to walk normally. He died Oct. 18 at age 95.
"Right now, we are not at a point where we can be self-sustaining, so this gift will allow us to achieve our fundamental goals of worldwide education of the Ponseti method," said Dr. Stuart Weinstein, an orthopedic surgeon who trained and worked with Ponseti from the early 1970s until Ponseti's death. "Even though we have a foundation, we don't have any funds."
The money will allow the Ponseti International Association to hire a full-time staff for fundraising and pay part of the cost of sending physicians to teach the method in dozens of countries. The association also hopes nurses, midwives and physical therapists can learn the method and take it back to places with limited access to doctors.
Bob and Molly Whitmore's donation is the largest the association has received since it was started in 2006.
The Whitmores, of Eden Prairie, Minn., have close ties to Ponseti. Bob Whitmore's father, Bill, was a longtime orthopedic surgeon in Davenport, who studied under Ponseti and helped train African doctors in the method. Molly Whitmore's brother, Matthew Osterhaus, suffered from clubfoot and was treated as a child using the Ponseti method.
Osterhaus went on to run for the University of Iowa's cross-country team.
Ponseti developed his method in the mid-1940s, and in the following decades saw or advised in the treatment of 60,000 patients, most of them young children. His method involves gentle manipulation of the foot, plus the use of plaster casts to hold the foot in a new position while tendons and muscles stretch.
Dr. Jose Morcuende, a University of Iowa physician who worked with Ponseti for 18 years, said the low-cost treatment is ideal for developing countries.
"You are not using the time for the (operating room) that they really need for traumas and infection," Morcuende said. "The impact is tremendous in developing countries."
Though Ponseti perfected the method decades ago, Morcuende said it received little acceptance in the U.S. and the rest of the world until this decade. It has been endorsed by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control support initiatives to promote the practice.
Some of the money will likely be used to send Ponseti International Association doctors to conferences in Guatemala and Russia next year, Morcuende said, though a final decision hasn't been made.
"Right now, most people are interested to learn the method," Morcuende said. "And that's why this money is going to be extremely important for us. It will allow us to go much faster than before."