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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Thousand Oaks

Prostheses Fitted to Ukrainian Orphan

February 08, 2000|MAIJA-LIISA NAGARAJAN

Dmytro "Dima" Korovin, a 2-year-old Ukrainian orphan born with underdeveloped legs and no feet, has been fitted with prosthetics and his Thousand Oaks foster mother said he'll be walking in no time.

"It's wonderful," Sherry Shaffer said after seeing the toddler stand for the first time Friday. "It's what we've been waiting for. It'll be a very short time until he's walking."

Dima, who has no foot on his right leg and a left leg that ends at the knee, was very tentative about his new 12-inch fiberglass legs, which he received at Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles.

The child cried for the first five minutes he had the legs on and also tried to take them off.

David Craft, a certified prosthetist who fit Dima with the legs, said such a reaction is common in almost all children he has treated.

"It's just fear," Craft said. "He's afraid. Almost all kids are like that. But he's more scared than most kids. I guess that's because everything is so new."

In the last four months, Dima's life has changed dramatically from the solitary existence he led in an Ukrainian orphanage. He now has toys for the first time, television and a family to love him.

The child is on a temporary visa and will live with Shaffer during the initial medical treatments, but he'll have to return to Europe once his visa expires. However, a family in Oregon hopes to be in Ukraine completing the final adoption paperwork when Dima gets there and to bring him back to the U.S. with them.

Shaffer has received support for Dima's care from Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Thousand Oaks, and the Shriners will provide prosthetics for him until he is 18.

Doctors are scheduled to give the child a checkup Friday to see how he is adjusting to the legs. If the doctors are impressed with Dima's determination to walk, they may give him a walker.

Dr. Tony Ellis, the hospital's chief prosthetist, said it is difficult to say when Dima will be walking like most children his age.

"A lot of it depends on the kid," Ellis said. "I've seen it range from one week to three weeks. Initially, he'll be walking around a table, a few steps, but then he'll need a walker."

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