Mo. surgeons operate to save leg of Haitian boy - KMOV.com

Mo. surgeons operate to save leg of Haitian boy

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Surgeons are hopeful after operating to save the leg of a Haitian boy brought to St. Louis for treatment.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that doctors at Shriners Hospital for Children in Frontenac performed surgery Friday on 11-year-old Jean Patrickson.

Despite more operations and the intense rehabilitation ahead of him, Jean "should be able to have a normal life," said Dr. Eric Gordon, an orthopedic surgeon, after the successful operation.

Jean's leg was crushed when the roof of his Port-au-Prince home collapsed during the quake.

He was taken to a hospital 75 miles to the north, where a doctor thought his leg could be saved if he was sent to Shriners, which specializes in orthopedic cases.

Several humanitarian organizations worked to secure Jean's trip to St. Louis.

Before his arrival in St. Louis, doctors in Haiti already had removed a 7-inch section of the tibia -- nearly the entire stretch of bone between his knee and ankle.

On Friday, doctors removed a piece of Jean's fibula, which runs alongside the tibia in the shin. The separated bone was strung with wires and connected at the top and bottom of the remaining pieces of tibia.

Pins and screws placed in the bones will help them stretch at a rate of about 1 millimeter a day. Over time, the bones will grow and fuse to replace the damaged sections.

Jean will spend two weeks recovering at Shriners before going to live with a host family in St. Louis. Doctors said he could stay with the family for up to a year while he undergoes physical therapy and another surgery in about six weeks to move the bones to stimulate their growth.

"The entire thing is a painful process," Gordon said. "It's interesting, the kids we do from Third World countries tolerate it really well. They grow up thinking pain is a part of life."

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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