A road crash victim who lost part of his leg in a horrific smash is set to have it rebuilt by surgeons in a UK first, using donor bones.
Stu Jotham, 29, was thrown from his motorbike in 2011 and lost parts of his femur and tibula – as well as all his knee ligaments – as he skidded across the road.
Medics feared he would lose the mangled right limb but after a series of operations they managed to save it.
But Mr Jotham – who was previously a landscape gardener and martial arts competitor –was left wheelchair-bound and in extreme pain.
Four years on, he still struggles to walk unaided and has been unable to work.
But he is now preparing himself for a life-changing reconstruction which will see surgeons screw parts of a donor leg on to what remains of his limb.
Mr Jotham, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, said: “As far as I’m aware this is the first time they are going to do it on this scale in this country so I’m a bit of a guinea pig.
“I don’t mind because it will work for me and hopefully it will restore some sort of strength and stability in my knee, which is the ultimate goal.They want to take the femur, the ligaments and a bit of the fibula – all attached – and then bolt them on to my leg, and hopefully over two years it will integrate to my leg.
“That is obviously a huge, huge operation and I’ve been on a donor list for the last three years. It’s a big thing to deal with.
“I’d love to find out who this donor is, or his family, and just send them a letter to say thank you.
“They’ve literally given me bones and bits of body.
“The thought that some young bloke died somewhere and that I’m having a bit of his leg, it’s a weird concept – but an amazing one.”
The landscaper was riding to Devon for a day out with his family in April 2011 when he was knocked off his motorcycle in Gloucestershire.
He was taken to Gloucester Royal Infirmary and then transferred to Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital, where surgeons warned there was a high chance he would lose his leg.
Medics took skin, tissue and muscle from Mr Jotham’s side and back to patch up his leg, which was only just supplying blood to his foot by a single vein.Mr Jotham said: “It ripped all the skin off my leg and I went down the road on my knee, which ground away a lot.
“They planted tissue from my back down into my leg and plumbed it all in amazingly.
“It was three surgeries and two of them were ten or 11 hours long.
“It was pretty intense. I think I had ten to 11 units of blood replaced.”
Mr Jotham got the call from the NHS in November telling him a suitable leg donor had been found, and the operation will take place next month.
Doctors will implant one third of the anonymous donor’s knee joint – made up of pieces of thigh bone, calf bone and ligaments – together with artificial cartilage.
“When they told me they had a suitable donor I did get emotional,” Mr Jotham said.
“I felt disorientated. I felt all over the place. I didn’t know what to think.
“I’m going to have to keep mentally strong – for my family and friends as well.”
He added: “I want to be able to run again.
“Going through it has been hard, of course, but there are people in worse places than me. I have to stay positive.”