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Rare leg implant surgery gives P.E.I. woman new lease on life

Lori MacInnis is feeling more like herself after she received a leg implant during a new and rare type of surgery
Lori MacInnis is learning to live life with her new leg implant. (Contributed)
Lori MacInnis is feeling more like herself after she received a leg implant during a new and rare type of surgery.

The 42-year-old Charlottetown woman travelled to Australia four months ago to have the surgery done.

MacInnis lost the lower half of her leg in a motorcycle accident almost five years ago. Her leg was amputated below the knee.

She says a socket prosthesis never worked well for her.

"The bone that they did save was very damaged and I just never tolerated wearing a socket well," said MacInnis. "You end up getting sores and bruises and it was just uncomfortable all the time. It was hot, cumbersome."

During MacInnis's research to find out if there was a different option, she learned of a surgery called osseointegration –  directly connecting a titanium implant to the bone. 

"The only person that was doing it below the knee, which I'm a below the knee amputee was this Munjed Al Muderis in Australia so I contacted him and started to get the ball rolling."

MacInnis travelled to Sydney and had the surgery. She personally paid the cost of $95,000.

"This kind of technology will bring Lori's mobility as close as possible to normality. And that [will] allow a person like Lori to have much better functional capacity, much more comfort, a lot less energy consumption." said Dr. Muderis.

"One problem is that amputees don't feel the ground. With this technology they get what's called osseoperception and that means that they regain some of the sensation and the feeling of the ground."  

Muderis said he has been approached by Canadian surgeons interested in learning the procedure and is working to have the surgery funded by some governments as it is in Australia.

MacInnis said the cost was worth the improved quality of life.

Lori MacInnis uses a special tool to take her leg implant off and put it back on. (CBC)
"I just take a little tool and I click it on and off and it's so easy and I don't even have to take it off because it's not uncomfortable all the time," said MacInnis.

"Just being able to walk without a cumbersome socket and it's not limiting my knee range and things like that. It's light. It's amazing. I went in the water at the beach in Australia ... To have the water on my limb again was amazing." 

Now MacInnis wants other amputees to see there is another option. She hopes to travel with Muderis and his team to promote the surgery in North America.

"There is a lot of regulatory affairs that need to be dealt with before hand in order to bring it to Canada," said Muderis.

In the meantime, MacInnis is enjoying the freedom the new implant has provided to her and has a cover to go over it. 

"It's just very freeing. It's liberating to not have to have a socket on."

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