Brad and Nikki Thompson with six-year-old Mattias who suffers from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a rare childhood condition that leads to the need for hip reconstruction surgery. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Rare hip disease sidelines active Chilliwack kindergartener

Family ball tournament in July to help raise funds for BC Children’s ‘I’m a HIPpy’ foundation

For almost three decades Nikki and Brad Thompson’s family has been involved in a softball tournament raising money for BC Children’s Hospital.

Sometimes they raise funds for a specific unit within the hospital, and some years the tournament focused on a specific young person who was ill or who had passed way.

This year the Chilliwack couple will again be involved in the tournament Nikki’s parents Tanya and Bill Miller started in 1991.

But in a cruel irony, this year the focus is their own six-year-old son who was recently diagnosed with a rare hip disease.

Mattias Thompson loves lacrosse and ice hockey, but he can’t play anymore. At a visit to his grandparents’ rural house, Mattias was all smiles as he scooted around in his wheelchair on the back deck.

Mattias, who is a Kindergarten student at Promontory Heights elementary, has Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, usually referred to simply as Perthes disease, which is a rare childhood condition where blood supply to the head of the femur (thigh bone) is disrupted, eventually killing the bone.

His left hip joint has already fully died and he spent weeks at BC Children’s having a full hip reconstruction. Preparation for that surgery included five days where for 23 hours of the day he had to be in traction with his legs splayed apart.

The surgery performed by Dr. Kishore Mulpuri was a success and in late May, Nikki and Brad got good news but also bad news at a follow-up visit.

The good news was that the surgeon said Mattias’s recovery on his left hip is seven months ahead of schedule. The bad news, is that his right hip is now dying too and he’ll have to do it all again in the coming months.

“He has a pretty bad case,” Nikki said.

Mattias was a very active kid involved in hockey and his favourite sport, lacrosse. But they started to notice him limping. At first he was diagnosed with a virus that they were told would go away in a couple of weeks. It didn’t, and then he was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Then they went for an MRI and found the Perthes disease.

Since then the family says the treatment they’ve had at BC Children’s has been amazing.

This year the family softball tournament will raise funds for BC Children’s Hospital and specifically the “I’m a HIPpy” foundation in Mattias’s name.

The I’m a HIPpy team under the leadership of Dr. Mulpuri works to improve treatment and early diagnosis of all childhood hip and bone-related conditions.

“It might not be over yet, but soon I will walk and run again so I can play lacrosse and hockey,” Mattias said in an online post by I’m a HIPpy. “I feel bad for all the other kids who have to get their limp fixed in the hospital too.”

While it’s challenging to go through this for such a young boy, the family remains positive with the long-term prognosis, and they are excited to have a good cause for their longstanding ball tournament.

“We are very blessed because we have a platform to raise awareness about this particular disease,” Nikki said. “The I’m a HIPpy foundation is amazing. They are incredible doctors with all of us in hospital.”

Cousin Claire Walker is helping organize the tournament and she said doctors from BC Children’s will be involved in the three-day event from June 21 to 23 at Cloverdale Athletic Park. And while the tournament is all filled up with teams, donations can be made for this fundraiser through the “Steel Industry Softball Tournament” on Facebook.

Those interested in Perthes disease and Mattias can visit his page on Facebook, “Mattias’ Perthes Journey”.


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Brad and Nikki Thompson with six-year-old Mattias who suffers from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a childhood condition that requires hip replacements. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

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