Beaufort mom rallies to help son

The Halpin Family

The following piece is from the Lowcountry Child website.

Donavan Halpin has always wanted to play football like the other kids. But an insidious childhood disease has put his dreams on hold. Now, the 14-year-old’s family is praying and hoping that an upcoming surgery will make his dreams come true.

Donavan, who lives in Beaufort with his family, suffers from Legg-Calve Perthes disease, which affects about 1 in 1,200 children. Perthes disease occurs when the ball of the thighbone in the hip doesn't get enough blood, causing the bone to die. The ball of the hip will then collapse and become flat.

The pain is intense and has kept Donavan from walking for months at a time. When he is able to walk, it is with a pronounced limp because the disease affects his leg’s ability to grow. Therefore, one of his legs is shorter than the other.

His knees and spine are also impacted due to the shorter leg.

“His spine is taking a real beating right now,” said his mom, Meg Holt, who very much admires her son’s courage. “Donavan is an amazing boy. He handles his disease with such grace. If we all handled our lives as he did this disease, we would be very squared away.”

It hasn’t been an easy time for Donavan or his family. The teen had osteotomy surgery in 2009, which involved removing a wedge of bone near the joint to cause a shift in weight from the area where there is damage. However, the surgery failed and Donavan now needs massive reconstruction, said Holt.

A local surgeon recommended that Donavan have two screws put into the kneecap of his good leg to stunt its growth, allowing the bad leg to catch up in growth.

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However, the Holts decided to get a second opinion and turned to Perthes specialist Dr. Shawn Standard of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Md.

After evaluating Donavan, the doctor said there is no reason to stunt the growth of his healthy leg.

Most important was to repair the failed osteotomy because it caused the femoral head to become large and misshapen, resulting in the inability to glide or rotate correctly. The doctor also said they need to stabilize Donavan’s hip and pelvic muscular structure.

On April 6, Standard will perform the reshaping and restorative surgery on Donavan. Meg and Dovanan will then have to stay in Baltimore for a minimum of two weeks for after-care.

After the surgery, Donavan will be braced and immobilized for 3 months, giving the hip a chance to heal.

After that, he will have to undergo constant water and land physical therapy for a year to strengthen him enough to learn to walk again. In a year, he will have to undergo leg-lengthening surgery.

In the midst of dealing with the April 6 surgery, and leaving her 6-month-old baby behind along with her husband, John, Meg is also dealing with the stress of finances.

They have to travel to Baltimore on April 2 and can barely afford the trip, much less the surgery. To top it off, their insurance will not come close to covering all the expenses.

“We have a massive amount of out-of-pocket expenses right now that are scary,” she said. “His aftercare will be the most important thing … he’ll need physical therapy and meds and equipment ...”

While financial donations are sorely needed, Meg said, “My biggest dream is to get a YMCA pass to bring Donavan there for that year for hydrotherapy. The problem is that we don’t meet their income guidelines for a free or reduced pass.”

Donavan will also need a wheelchair, walker, crutches and so much more.

Meg said things aren’t easy, but they have hope.

“Donavan is approaching high school this fall and we pray for him to get a new lease on life; that he has the chance of living life as a normal 14-year-old.”

How to Help

South Carolina Bank & Trust is taking donations in Donavan Halpin’s name. Checks can be made out to “A Hip for Donavan” and dropped off at or sent to SCBT or mailed to P.O. Box 382, Port Royal, SC 29935.

To help with medical equipment, meals for the family or a pass to the YMCA for Donavan’s hydrotherapy, email Donavan's mother, Meg Holt, said Donavan could use all of the encouragement he can get.

Feel free to send a card to the aforementioned address. If you would like to send something extra special, Donavan is a history buff, who is a voracious reader. Because he can't walk for sometimes months at a time, he also loves video games. His wish list includes a Playstation 3 video system with a TV.

For more information, visit

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