On the surface, Dugan Smith doesn’t look different from any other boy his age. A closer look; however, would show something else altogether. This teenager has a foot fused to his lower thigh. That’s isn’t all. The foot is attached backwards. This isn’t a mistake of nature either. Young Dugan endured a highly complex operation for the specific purpose of this alteration.
An athlete, Smith loved playing baseball but found it getting more difficult because of unusual pain in his knee. It got to the point where he couldn’t walk, much less run, which is a key part of the American game he loves.
A visit to the doctor led to tests that revealed Dugan Smith had a cancerous tumor in his leg. It looked like the 13-year-old might lose his entire leg until Dr. Joel Mayerson suggested a controversial procedure.
He advised amputation of the lower half of Dugan’s leg. However, Mayerson suggested attaching the saved foot to the bottom of the thigh where the knee would normally be. That wasn’t all the Director of Ohio State University’s Musculoskeletal Oncology had in mind. He explained that by attaching the foot backwards, it could act like the knee once did. Slipped into a prosthetic, it could bend and flex much in the same way a kneecap would. That would give Dugan Smith more flexibility and allow him to continue playing the sports he loves.
Dugan wanted to try the shocking procedure so he could lead a somewhat normal life. His parents agreed.
The operation was successful and now Dugan plays the games he loves with relative ease. He’s back to playing baseball, his first love, and has added basketball to his repertoire. He also rides a bike right along with his friends.
Dugan Smith declares that he is the “happiest person in the world.” He may also well be one of the bravest people in the world. The teenage years are difficult enough on their own. To enter them with any type of abnormality could open a child up to ridicule and bullying.
Dugan Smith; however, doesn’t look at it that way. He just feels lucky. No doubt his friends and family do too!