A teenager undergoing surgery had part of his leg removed and treated at a hospital THREE miles away.
In a pioneering operation, a 12-inch piece of Matthew Willey’s shin bone was taken out for radiotherapy treatment.
It was then put back into his leg while he was STILL on the operating table.
Now the 15-year-old is recovering at home.
Dad Will said: “We were relieved they were going to save his leg because the feedback at first was that he was going to lose it.”
Matthew, from Barwick-in-Elmet, was 14 when he went to his GP in January with pain in his leg.
At Leeds General Infirmary, doctors warned he could lose the limb or even his life.
“Matthew’s reaction was ‘it can take my leg but it’s not having my life’,” his mum Julie said.
“We knew from then he was going to fight whatever was thrown at us.”
The teenager was then sent to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. After a battery of tests he was diagnosed in March with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
“We just went to bits,” Mrs Willey said.
Matthew had intensive chemotherapy and in July the Garforth Academy pupil underwent the pioneering 10-hour operation in Birmingham.
His tibia was removed and taken by the surgeon to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where it was irradiated to tackle the cancer. Then it was reimplanted into his leg, with his fibula - calf bone - moved used to strengthen the leg. A metal frame has been inserted to hold his leg together and he has also had a skin graft.
Mr Willey, 42, said: “It’s better to have your own bone in there than a metal pin, and it will knit back together.”
After 10 days in hospital, Matthew returned home and restarted chemotherapy at Leeds General Infirmary. He is due to finish at Christmas but will carry on being treated with new bone cancer drug mifamurtide, for which doctors had to get special funding. The drug, which cuts the risk of dying by nearly a third, has now been given the green-light by NHS bosses.
Mr and Mrs Willey, who are foster carers, said Matthew had been an inspiration and praised his care at LGI, as well as support from their community.
“It’s been an awful 10 months but he has never once given in,” his mum, 51, said.
“He’s been as brave as anything.”
Dr Simone Wilkins, Matthew’s consultant at LGI, said: “In Matthew’s case, surgeons used his own bone which was removed, treated with radiotherapy and replaced, which is a technique which has been used for the last couple of years to try to avoid amputation.”