Bone cancer surgery a success for 9-year-old boy

December 15, 2009 3:22:19 PM PST
A 9-year-old boy from El Salvador hopes a Chicago surgeon can save his leg. Doctors in his country wanted to amputate, but the boy's father refused to accept the diagnosis. So he found a doctor in Chicago who would use an implant instead.

Vladimir Trigueros has a rare form of bone cancer in his thigh. He and his father, Lisandro, were told by doctors in El Salvador that the only treatment that would save his life would be amputation of the right leg. However, Lisandro went online and discovered a doctor at Rush University Medical Center who could save his son's leg and help him defeat cancer -- with advance technology.

"I believe he will defeat the cancer because the technology is not the same in the U.S," said Lisandro.

Dr. Steven Gitelis said the four-hour surgery, which has a 95-percent success rate, went well Tuesday.

"I am going to be removing 16 centimeters of the thigh bone and the placement will be this part and that will equal the bone they take out and a knee joint and inside of this is the growing mechanism," said Dr. Gitelis.

As the child grows, the replacement bone is lengthened non-surgically using electromagnetic waves to heat a rod inside, which triggers an internal spring to unwind slightly.

"I think his parents will bring him back to Chicago once every three to six months. It takes about 10 minutes and I can grow his leg," said Dr. Gitelis.

The boy's mother, Mirna, said she is grateful to Doctor Gitelis for the second chance he is giving her son and their family-- and for saving her baby's leg.

Vladimir's father hopes to return home with his son to El Salvador by the first of the year. Valdimir soccer and his teammates are anxious to see him.


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