Royston toddler learning to walk with prosthetic foot after rare pregnancy complication

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At 16 months, Bentley is one of the youngest amputees in physical therapy at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, but he is also one of the most determined. 

“He’s resilient, very resilient, and hard-headed,” his father, Daniel Vaughn says. “He sees his brother try to climb, and he’s there trying to climb with him.” 

Jill Cannoy is Bentley Vaughn’s physical therapist. 

“He’s pretty easy to work with,” Cannoy says.  “He’s very motivated, especially by his brother.” 

And the story of how Bentley Vaughn ended up here, adjusting to life with a prosthetic left foot, began with a problem while Alana Vaughn was still pregnant. 

What is twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome?

Bentley and Owen Vaughn developed twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a kind of uneven blood flow in the uterus. 

“We did not realize that that was going on until the day they were born,” Alana Vaughn, their mother, says. 

Owen Vaughn was supplying too much nutrient-rich blood to Bentley; their parents were told. 

“Bentley had way too much blood and all the nutrients and Owen didn’t have enough,” Alana Vaughn explains. 

When her water broke at 26 weeks’ gestation, 3 months before their planned delivery date, Alana Vaughn had an emergency c-section, which Daniel Vaughn now sees as a blessing. 

“We believe that if our water hadn’t broken, the twin-to-twin transfusion would have kept going on like it was,” Vaughn says. “Then, we either would have lost one, or if not both twins. So, I think that was all really God’s timing on that.” 

Because when the twins were delivered, they looked very different, their mother says. 

“Owen looked like a white sheet of paper and Bentley looked like a tomato,” Alana Vaughn says. 

Blond twin boys sit on the floor in front of their couch.

Bentley and Owen Vaughn of Royston, Georgia.

Infant’s foot amputated

In the NICU, Bentley’s left leg was growing darker by the hour. 

“They were like, ‘Oh, it’s just bruising from birth,'” Alana Vaughn remembers. “We went that afternoon, and it was much, much darker.” 

Bentley was airlifted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, where doctors found blood clots in his left leg had cut off the blood flow to his left foot, causing irreversible damage. 

“It was a very big shock to find out, you know, we’re going to have to amputate our son’s foot,” the twins’ mother says.  “Not every parent wants to make that decision.” 

The Vaughns had time to prepare for the surgery in August 2023, when Bentley was 6 months old. 

Jill Cannoy and her team met with them to talk them through what happened. 

“(We talked about) kind of how this would progress, kind of what to expect with his amputation and what that would look like after amputation as far as, like his prosthetic fitting, physical therapy, all those different pieces,” Cannoy says. 

Toddler uses prosthetic foot 

It’s been 9 months since his surgery. 

Bentley is hitting all his milestones with his new prosthetic foot, which he received in January. 

Cannoy says he can stand, walk with assistance and is taking a few steps on his own. 

Owen Vaughn, who comes along to his physical therapy sessions, is his “workout” buddy. 

“They’re starting to, you know, get more and more playful with each other and they’re learning from each other,” Daniel Vaughn says. 

And Alana Vaughn says Bentley is adjusting to his prosthetic foot better than they ever expected. 

“He shows us up a lot,” Vaughn says.  “We were like, ‘Oh, it’ll be so hard for him!’ But he really does, he does is amazing. He keeps up right with Owen and he hasn’t skipped a beat. ” 

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