Cancer survivor in Chicago for leg lengthening

June 8, 2010 (CHICAGO) Doctors in his country wanted to amputate Vladimir Trigueros' leg because of a rare bone disease. But the boy's father found a Chicago doctor who could help by using an implant online.

Last December, Dr. Steven Gitelis, a bone cancer specialist at Rush University Medical Center, successfully removed all of the cancer in Trigueros' thigh and implanted an innovative, expandable replacement bone that can be lengthened non-surgically as the boy grows. The boy was 9 at the time.

Trigueros' leg lengthening procedure took a little over five minutes Tuesday morning.

"What I have to do is put a pole around his leg, push a button, and it allows," said Dr.Steven Gitelis, Rush University Medical Center

According to Gitelis, Trigueros' was walking Tuesday morning and is now in rehabilitation.

"I lengthed it about an inch. It's important that you try to keep the leg lengths equal or near equal," said Dr. Gitelis.

"I feel good," said Vladimir Trigueros, patient.

Trigueros' father was told by doctors in El Salvador that the only treatment to save his child's life would be amputation of the right leg. Since his operation in December, Trigueros has undergone chemotherapy and is now cancer free.

"It takes very loyal, cooperative dependable parents. Without that I wouldn't embark on this," said Dr. Gitelis.

The Trigueros are committed to returning to Chicago every six months for the next six years for the treatments.

"It's costly. My son's leg doesn't have a price. It was the only way to save his life and his leg, too," said Lisandros Trigueros, boy's father.

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