The mother of a boy whose foot was amputated and reattached backwards has spoken of her thanks for the skilled surgeons whose intervention means her son can now walk again.
Tristin Stewart, a 15-year-old boy from Strabane, had to undergo an amputation due to a rare form of cancer known as ‘synovial sarcoma’.
However, he was given a remarkable operation known as a rotationplasty rather than a full-leg amputation, which allows him to retain the function of a knee-joint.
This involved the removal of much of his leg, and his foot being reattached after having been rotated 180 degrees. The backwards foot now fulfils the function of a knee-joint, allowing better control of a prosthetic limb.
His mother, Mandy Stewart, explained: “He started complaining with a pain in his leg, and I thought it was growing pains.”
However, it turned out to be something much more serious.
After a number of trips to the family doctor, eventually it was discovered Tristin had a cist in his leg. He was taken to Musgrave Park Hospital to have it removed but, after the operation, he was called back.
Mandy recalls being given the devastating news that her son had a rare form of cancer.
“The phone rang, and it was Shane (Tristin’s father). I could tell his voice was different. I knew something was wrong. He said: ‘Mandy, that wasn’t a cist, it was a tumour. Tristin has cancer.’ I dropped the phone. I was hysterical.”
Tristin was given the diagnosis of ‘synovial sarcoma’.
“The next couple of days were a blur,” Mandy said.
After a period of consultation between oncologists in Belfast and Birmingham, Tristin and his family were told there were two options.
He could either have the leg removed from above the knee, or he could have the operation known as a ‘rotationplasty’ that had never been performed in Northern Ireland.
Tristin opted for the rotationplasty in order to retain more function.
The operation was a success, and six months later he is now able to walk again without the need for crutches.
Mandy said: “We are all so grateful for Mr Laurence Cusick who oversaw everything, because if it wasn’t for him Tristin wouldn’t have been able to get this operation.
“We can’t thank him and the whole team there enough.”
The family have set up a ‘gofundme’ page online to raise money to pay for specialist, high-tech prosthetics for Tristin.