Xu Juan is a 21-year-old woman who suffered from a bone infection when she was a child and due to lack of medical facilities in her hometown when her thigh bone was destroyed by bacteria. A scary nine inches of her leg bone has been eroded by the bacteria making her left leg shorter than her right, causing her to walk with the aid of crutches for most of her life.
Over the years, Xu Juan’s parents out of their meager savings managed to save everything they could and were recently able to pay for her to undergo surgery. Dr. Hu Yihe said: ”Her condition was very complicated. As she not only had a shorter leg, but her knee and hip joints were also underdeveloped and had to be replaced. So we made a treatment plan of two phases. The first phase was to extend her left leg and make the two legs evenly long. The second phase of surgery was replacing the left knee joint and left hip joint.”
Xu Juan has had four operations in between October 2012 and October 2013. In order to lengthen her leg, a metal cage was fitted to her left leg and each day she had to turn a screw to stretch her leg a little more.
“After the surgeries, each day Xu Juan needed to turn the toothed gear to extend her left leg 1mm. The extension must go very slowly, as nerves and vessels need time to be extended. If the extension went too fast, the nerves or vessels could snap, causing permanent paralysis,” said Dr. Hu.
It took a year to lengthen Ms Xu’s leg, after which she had surgery to fit an artificial left knee and hip joint in October 2013.
Her treatments finally finished at the end of February this year and doctors say that after a few months of rehabilitation, she will be able to walk normally.
Ms Xu (pictured after surgery) is expected to be able to walk normal after rehabilitation
Doctor Hu Yihe said: ‘Her condition was very complicated. As she not only had a shorter leg, but her knee and hip joints were also underdeveloped and had to be replaced’