Baseball season is here! Your favorite players are back on the field.
But none of them as impressive as the 13 year old we're about to tell you about.
Dugan Smith first knew something was wrong with his leg on the baseball field. After sliding into base, his right knee felt stiff and sore.
His mom Amy Miller says, "That night I looked at his knee and he had three little bumps on his knee that, like we could actually move around, and we were like 'what is that?'"
It turned out to be a malignant tumor, the size of a softball on Dugan's thigh bone.
After undergoing chemotherapy to kill the cancer, Dugan then underwent a rare and remarkable procedure.
Dr. Joel Mayerson with the James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute says, "Basically, we take out the entire middle part of the leg, and then we take the bottom part of the leg and leave the nerves connected, and we reconnect the blood vessels and we turn the leg around backwards."
It's called a Van Nes rotation-plasty procedure performed by Dr. Mayerson. He says by turning Dugan's leg around backwards, his calf muscle is now acting as his thigh - and his ankle has become his knee.
And because his bone is alive and well, as Dugan grows, his leg does too.
Today, with the help of a prosthesis, Dugan is not only walking again, he's playing basketball and his favorite sport baseball.
His dad Dustin says, “He's a very upbeat, positive kid, he's always been that way, he's always been very competitive. So, I knew those things would help him."
Those qualities have helped, not only in getting him back in the game, but learning what winning is truly all about.
Dugan says,"People can see that just because you have a prosthetic leg doesn't mean you can't do it. So, I just like to show people that I can do anything that I want to do."
Dugan says he would love to be the first player to pitch in the major leagues after undergoing this type of operation.
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Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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