Baseball-mad cancer survivor Dugan Smith, 13, can now run, walk and jump after radical surgery saw doctors reattached his amputated leg back to front. Why? So that Dugan’s heel could be used as a new knee!
Sports-lover Dugan, from Fostoria, Ohio, was 10 years old when he discovered that he had osteosarcoma – a rare cancer that grows inside bone – with a tumour the size of a grapefruit inside his knee. Although chemotherapy managed to shrink the tumour, doctors still had to remove Dugan’s leg, as it was the only way to make sure that the cancer was completely gone. “I was really scared. I thought I was never going to play sports or run again,” said Dugan, reports The Mirror.
The unusual operation, which is only performed on around a dozen children a year, saw doctors take the amputated lower leg and use it to replace the thigh, with Dugan’s heel now a knee joint. “There were alternatives that may have looked better, but they would have restricted his mobility and stopped him competing,” said Dugan’s dad Dustin.
“Dugan’s heel would then act as pivot for a prosthetic limb, which gives him much more functionality to the leg. It also decreases the chance of the tumour reoccurring,” explained Dr Mayerson, from Arthur James Cancer Hospital.
Six months after the operation, Dugan had his prosthetic lower leg fitted and has now learnt how to walk and run on his new limb. “Just seeing him hang out with his friends, playing on his computer games and just enjoying life as a normal kid is amazing, given how far he’s come,” mum Amy said.
“The huge smile on his face as he plays sport tells me we made the right decision. And after all, that’s what every parent wants,” said Dustin.