REAL LIFE

They took his foot off and put it on backwards!

Little Max has been so brave...

A little boy has been left with a backwards facing foot after revolutionary surgery to stop his bone from cancer spreading.

Little Max, aged 22 months, is back crawling around after surgeons found an ingenious way to leave him with four working limbs.

When he was only a year old, Max was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his knee and his parents were told that amputation may be the best option to save his life.

Little Max before his diagnosis.

‘After the first round of chemo, the surgeon, Mark O’Sullivan, came to meet with us,’ says Max’s mum Julie Ford, 26. ‘He said the best course of acton would be rotationplasty.’

This meant that Max’s cancerous knee would be removed, along with eight centimetres of his thigh bone and part of his shin bone.

Surgeons would then re-attach the remaining part of his limb backwards – leaving him with his heel at the front, toes pointing back and an ankle joint where his knee used to be.

Held in place with plates and screws, eventually the join would heal. Max would have a short leg but a functioning joint, making it easier to use a prosthetic.

‘I didn’t know what  to say,’ says Julie. ‘But I had to place my faith in the doctors.’

So in February this year, Max became the youngest child ever to have rotationplasty at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. 

After the eight-hour operation, Julie and her partner Greg, 29, went in to see Max.

‘Peeling back the bed sheets we were curious about his new leg. Although it was much shorter, I wasn’t upset seeing his foot backwards. I was just amazed that they’d been able to save my boy,’ says Julie.

Max with his cast on after the op.

Four months on and Max is still undergoing chemo but is cancer-free. In a few months’ time he’ll be fitted with a prosthetic.

‘He doesn’t seem phased by the change,’ says Julie. ‘He’s back to his bubbly self.’

Max with his new leg.

For more great real-life stories see issue 23 of that’s life Australia – out now!

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