When Andrew Kent broke his leg in a rock-climbing accident, the damage was so severe that traditional surgery failed and it looked like amputation would be the only answer. But orthopaedic surgeon Anan Shetty saved his leg using a new technique.
Stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow in Mr Kent’s hip and mixed with collagen gel to make a paste which was applied to the fractures before the leg was set in a metal cage to hold the bones together while they healed.
Says Anan Shetty: “If you have a fracture it takes about three months to heal. With this technique that is reduced by at least 50% – the time you have to be in the plaster or in the plate. And also in severe cases where the only option is an amputation, this technique I think is a huge benefit.”
In Mr Kent’s case recovery time was still 6 months as the damage was so severe, but his leg was saved.
The paste can also being used to repair torn cartilage in the knee. The collagen gel was invented by an orthopaedic surgeon from South Korea, Professor Seok Jung Kim, who has helped Mr Shetty pioneer these procedures.
Says Professor Seok Jung Kim: “Many people who have some problem knee injuries – they can get very effective treatment and very low cost treatment using this technique.”
Last December, six months after treatment with the collagen and stem cell paste, the cage on Andrew Kent’s leg was removed. In 18 months his bones will have healed completely and if he wants to, he’ll even be able to go rock climbing again!