Pelvis Transplant Keeps Man Walking

Pelvis Transplant Keeps Man Walking

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Ed Yeates ReportingSomething rather amazing has happened to a 35-year old man from Idaho. A Utah surgical team has rebuilt a portion of his anatomy to keep him on his feet and walking. Ed Yeates was there when he returned to Salt Lake for a checkup.

This was a radical surgical procedure, done for the first time here in Utah, with no guarantees to the patient that it would work. But in this case it did.

Except for a slight limp, 35-year old Troy Peterson walks extremely well. What's happened inside his body so he can do this is nothing short of fascinating. The young man from Blackfoot, Idaho had a rare form of bone cancer. His only chance was to remove half the pelvis and amputate the leg.

His prognosis was bleak. Without pelvic support, you can't attach an artificial leg. Even if he survived the cancer, he would never walk again. But he does! While doctors don't call this a miracle, Troy does.

Troy Peterson: “Oh I would have to call it a miracle. Yes it is. I didn’t think I would be alive, let alone walking again.”

How did it happen? Dr. Lor Randall and his colleagues at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute got a donor pelvis from a cadaver. In this remarkable surgery, the cancerous part of Troy's pelvis was removed and then the cadaver pelvis was literally restructured to fit in the new body.

Lor Randall, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon, Huntsman Cancer Institute: "What needed to happen conceptually from the first point was to remove the pelvis from here and here, and the hip joint."

Portions of the new pelvis were cut and carved to fit exactly. Troy's leg was detached, then reattached, using the artificial joint.

Dr. Randall: “Every time we see him we’re a little bit more hopeful. He’s been through quite a bit and we’re hoping for the best.”

For Troy, the best is already here. He's walking well on his rebuilt skeleton. And that cancer? It's in remission.

Troy had to stay off his feet for a whole year following the procedure. He says when he first put weight on the pelvis and leg, he studied every piece of ground before stepping on it.

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