THE ordeal is nearly over for 10-year-old Luca Railton, with a third operation now behind him and just one more procedure to go until he can finally walk without pain.
The Cricklade schoolboy, who was born with no bone in his right knee, no right tibia and only a partial left tibia due to a rare condition called bilateral tibial hemimelia, underwent surgery to break his right leg and start lengthening his femur on July 2.
Luca’s parents Alex and Teresa have now begun the process of turning the struts in their son’s leg each day to allow the bone to grow.
“The lengthening process is painful so we are hoping that regular physio and massaging of his hamstrings will help,” said Teresa.
“We must focus on the here and now and completing this stage of our journey.
“Lengthening Luca’s right leg will be done over 40 days, by turning the struts on the frame by one mililmetre a day.
“Once complete the leg remains in the frame for a further 40 days for consolidation, which means for the bone to grow.
“Then at this point X-rays will be taken to confirm that the leg has consolidated and if so the frame will be removed and a cast will then be put on so that further healing can then be achieved to close the pin sites where the frame was.”
In February 2013, the Railtons were told by NHS doctors they would have no other option but to amputate his right leg or fuse it straight.
But American surgeon Dr Dror Paley told the family he could save Luca’s leg.
Teresa and Alex spent the following months raising the £135,000 needed for the operations.
They have so far collected nearly £100,000.
While the successive procedures and physiotherapy sessions have tested Luca’s endurance, seeing her son walking with his feet flat on the ground for the first time last month was a victory in itself for Teresa after the threat of amputation.
Luca will undergo one final operation in September to remove the frame from his right leg.
The Railtons are hoping to return to England in time for Christmas, after more than nine months in Florida. “The final op will be in the fall around the end of September when the frame is removed from Luca's right leg,” said Teresa.
“He will then be put in a cast for a month, so that the wounds from the frame completely heal.
“Once removed he will have a further month of physio and after this will be coming home. So fingers crossed we will be home by Christmas. The plan from then on is to come back yearly for check-ups and until such time when he needs surgery again. Unfortunately this is not the end for Luca and his operations.
“We can’t put a number on how many more because it all depends on how he grows.”