In 2000, St. Clair’s mother, Lita, began noticing that her 12-year-old son was having trouble walking because his legs were tilting inwards, which was wearing out the joints and resulting in painful and premature arthritis. His condition progressed to a point where he could no longer play sports or even walk without pain. He was diagnosed with genu valgum, more commonly known as knock-knees
St. Clair had several surgeries at South Florida hospitals to correct the problem, but still complained of pain in his legs. It wasn’t long before the family began to notice further problems.
“After the last surgery, he started itching and his bone cells began to develop very quickly, forming a knot where he had his surgery,” says Lita. “When he was tested, we learned his kidneys were failing and causing his bones to deteriorate.”
As a result, St. Clair’s leg was unable to heal properly, and he was in need of a kidney transplant to survive. He was placed on the kidney donor list in December 2002. Luckily for St. Clair, after undergoing kidney transplant surgery in July 2003, the Clarkes were referred to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon
at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, the only provider of pediatric limb correction services in South Florida.
Making the decision to go through another surgery was a difficult one, but St. Clair and his family trusted the staff at Nicklaus Children's.
“I was nervous and scared,” St. Clair says. “I knew the surgery was a good decision.”
Nicklaus Children's Hospital doctors performed the surgery to straighten St. Clair’s legs in April 2005. Today, after more than a year’s worth of hard work, physical therapy and frequent doctor visits, St. Clair is finally able to run and reach his dream of playing football again.
“Nicklaus Children's has been so good to us,” says St. Clair Clarke Sr., St. Clair Jr.’s father. “[The Nicklaus Children's Hospital doctors] came to visit St. Clair even when he wasn’t on duty and has given my son his life back. To me, that makes Nicklaus Children's the best in the business.”