The New Stuff

Ohio Teen Playing Baseball After Backwards Leg Surgery


Ohio ~ (NBC Health) ~ 13-year-old Dugan Smith is one the best players on his baseball team.  One would be hard pressed to find a way that Dugan is different than any of the other players on his team or any other 13-year-old.  Amazingly Dugan is a cancer survivor whose leg was taken off and reattached.  Not only that, the leg was reattached backwards.

When Dugan was 10 he began to experience chronic knee pain, which he thought was practicing baseball.  When he finally went to the doctor and after a few tests it was determined he had osteosarcoma, a tumor in the bones that commonly develops in adolescence.

Following 10 gut-wrenching weeks of chemotherapy the doctors gave Dugan his therapeutic and surgical options, one of which involved a radical procedure in which the infected portion of the leg is removed and the leg is reconstructed backwards.  The procedure is known as Van Nes rotationplasty.

Dugan’s other options included amputation or the replacement of his femur with a piece of metal.  Both of these options would have significantly limited Dugan's range of motion and activity.

The surgery is obviously non-cosmetic, as it drastically changes one’s appearance.  For Dugan, however, the cosmetic nature of his surgery took a back seat to his love of baseball.  Once he was told that he could once again play baseball Dugan’s mind was made.

The surgery was a success and Dugan is playing baseball once again.

The American Cancer Society says that there are about 900 cases of osteosarcoma in the U.S. each year.  Osteosarcoma has a five-year survival rate of 50 to 60 percent.

Dugan’s dream is to be the first major league player with a prosthetic leg.

Photo Credit: NBC News

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