Girl has button stitched to her heel in operation to help her walk

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It looks just like a regular shirt button.

But this tiny bit of plastic will hopefully enable five-year-old Imogen Carr to walk unaided and pain free after she was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome

For six weeks Imogen, who was born with club feet and vital tendons missing, had the button attached to her heel after surgeons used it to keep a weak tendon supported.

Surgeons at Sunderland Royal performed the tendon exchange in May, which saw them swap the strong tendon on the inside of Imogen’s left foot – which was pulling it inwards – with the weaker one on the outside.

Sutures were used to ensure the tendon was held tightly in place and these were then fed through her heel and tied around the button on the bottom of her foot.

During this time the youngster, from Simonside, South Shields, wore a cast and needed a wheelchair to get about.

Mum Jeni Jackson, 24, said: “We knew she had a button on her heel, but with it being all wrapped up in the cast we didn’t realise until it was removed that it was actually am ordinary button.

“It looks just like one you’d have on a shirt.

“I thought it was going to be some piece of fancy medical kit. It’s quite incredible that it was something so simple.”

She added: “After six weeks it had to come off. It was a bit risky because we were told if it came off too quickly it would have pulled her bone out.

“But it came off fine as it had been attached with dissolvable stitches.

“Imogen loves her button, she was allowed to keep it afterwards. She’s showed all of her friends at school. She’s been telling everyone about it.”

This latest operation is one of many Imogen has had since she was born. Most of her life has been spent in plaster cast in a bid to straighten out her feet.

It’s still too early to assess the button procedure and Imogen may need further operations. For the time being she needs regular physiotherapy and must wear boots with a calliper to keep her foot straight.

In the meanwhile Imogen is enjoying her new school year at Monkton Infants.

Jeni, who lives with fiancé Chris Carr, and son Jack, two, said: “We are waiting to see how she gets on as she may need a tendon lengthening done. There’s a risk she could relapse, so we don’t get our hopes up too much.”