Leg-reversal surgery keeps boy in the game

Dugan Smith loves playing sports – baseball, basketball, football, you name it. So when the 13-year-old lost part of one leg to bone cancer, he was faced with the prospect of being sidelined as a spectator for the rest of his life.

Instead, Dugan opted for a rare and what to many would seem a radical operation that has allowed him to return to the field like almost any other kid.

Known as a rotationplasty, his surgery involved removing a large section of his right leg that surrounded the tumour – from below his knee to about mid-thigh – then reattaching the lower limb to the shortened upper thigh.

The twist, so to speak, is that Dugan’s lower leg was rotated 180 degrees and sewn on backwards.

His ankle now acts as his knee, his calf has replaced the lower part of his thigh and his backwards-facing foot slips into a prosthetic and powers the reversed muscles and joint with an up-and-down motion.

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