Leeds teenager hoping to walk alone

Matty Willey.
Matty Willey.
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A Leeds teenager whose bone cancer was treated through a pioneering operation could soon walk unaided again.

Matty Willey had part of his leg removed and treated at another hospital during the surgery.

Now the 15-year-old has finally finished months of gruelling chemotherapy, which has killed the cancer.

Dad Will said: “To come out from this terrible journey that we have been through feels joyous. Words cannot explain what it means.”

Matthew, from Barwick-in-Elmet, was 14 when he went to his GP in January 2011 with pain in his leg. Doctors at Leeds General Infirmary warned it could take his life, but the teenager vowed to fight the disease.

He was referred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham where he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

He underwent intensive chemotherapy followed by the 10-hour operation, during which a 12-inch piece of his shin bone was removed. While he was still on the operating table at one Birmingham Hospital, it was taken by the surgeon to another for radiation treatment.

Then it was reimplanted into his leg, with his fibula – calf bone – moved and a metal frame inserted to hold his leg together.

On his return home, Matty started chemotherapy at LGI again until Christmas and then he has been treated with new bone cancer drug mifamurtide.

Now he has finally finished his treatment and been told no trace of the cancer remains.

Mr Willey, who with wife Julie is a foster carer, said: “We are all over the moon. He is having intensive physio. It’s a long way off still but we will get there.

Matty has also been able to return part-time to Garforth Academy.

He has been reliant on crutches and a wheelchair but is hoping to soon take his first unaided steps since last summer.

Mr Willey, 42, said: “It’s a long process to get his leg working but they feel confident that it will.”

During his illness, Matty’s family have been supported by the community and thousands of pounds have been raised. The New Inn at Barwick-in-Elmet and East Leeds Rugby Club raised money to buy a Mac Book laptop, £3,000 left over to the Teenage Cancer Trust and the teenage cancer ward at LGI.

Mr Willey said: “To have the support we have had from the village, school and everybody around, it’s given us a boost and kept us going.”

The family hope to set up a charity in Matty’s name to support other teenagers.

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