Three years ago, Dugan Smith, now 13, noticed his knee was sore. Doctors eventually diagnosed a malignant tumor on his thigh bone. They recommended a Van Ness Rotation-Plasty procedure, which basically means removing the middle part of the leg and re-attaching it backwards.

In a TV interview with WJW-TV in Cleveland, Dugan said:

“When I was 10 years old I realized I was limping a lot and I broke my leg and realized I had cancer.”

Dugan agreed to the procedure, rather than having to end up with a prosthetic leg. The operation took place at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. He wanted to be able to continue playing baseball.

Van Ness Rotation-Plasty – the middle part of the leg is removed, the bottom half is rotated half 180 degrees, it is moved up and reconnected with blood vessels. The patient’s foot points backwards after the procedure.

Dugan said:

“I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to run again. I didn’t know if it was going to work, so there was a hundred things running through my mind and I just try to stay positive.”

The operation was a success and Dugan now plays as a starting pitcher.

Written by Christian Nordqvist