Nine-year-old Morgan LaRue is the first cancer patient in Texas to benefit from a procedure that will magnetically lengthen her leg, sparing her the possibility of up to 10 future surgeries as her body grows. The implant and extension took place at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston.
On March 29, 2010, Morgan lost a portion of the bone in her upper leg to osteosarcoma, and was facing the potential of numerous surgeries in order to keep her left leg even with her right, as she grows into adulthood. In her initial surgery two weeks ago, Dr. Rex Marco, an oncologic orthopedic surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, implanted a prosthetic device that saved Morgan from a lower limb amputation and allowed her cancerous bone to be replaced with a metal implant.
The device, a Stanmore Implants Extendable Distal Femoral Replacement, can be extended as Morgan grows, saving her from ongoing invasive procedures. This week, Morgan underwent her first outpatient procedure to magnetically extend her leg. By placing her leg into a magnetized “donut” in the outpatient clinic, doctors were able to extend the implanted prosthesis without having to do any surgery. The magnet extender, manufactured by Stanmore Implants, is a reversible extender that is the first and only device of its kind to be used in Texas.
“The difference this device makes for Morgan is incredible,” said Dr. Marco. “Her quality of life is so much higher than it would be if she were constantly undergoing surgery.” While the device has been approved and is regularly being used in Europe, it is still pending U. S. Food and Drug Administration approval and has only been used for approximately 15 patients in this country.
Dr. Wang, pediatric oncologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, and Dr. Marco, advocated for and received a “compassionate use” exception for the young girl, in order to implant the groundbreaking device.
“Morgan has already been through a lot of treatment for her cancer,” said Dr. Wang, “and this will prevent her from future uncomfortable surgeries.”