Tony Futch, 16, is the outdoorsy type. He loves baseball, duck hunting and riding dirt bikes. In 2010, a heroic act to prevent his sister from falling off a backyard trampoline left him with a broken left femur, the long bone in the leg. The injury healed but his growth plate was damaged and halted the leg’s growth.
As his uninjured leg kept growing, the family sought help from a local physician. “They first wanted to do surgery on the right leg and shut it down,” his dad said. Because Tony was only 10, “we were concerned it would steal a lot of height from him.”
The family sought a second opinion and Shriners Hospitals for Children — Tampa was on the referral list. “From our first visit, they focused on fixing the left leg,” Tony’s dad said. “That’s what we wanted to hear.”
Chief of Staff Maureen Maciel, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, used a new technology to lengthen Tony’s leg that allowed him to continue most normal activities.
The PRECICE nail is a magnetic implant placed into the bone of the leg. Lengthening occurs when a handheld remote control unit is activated directly over the implant. Everything is contained inside the body, giving the patient more freedom.
Today, Tony’s legs are even. His father said he was impressed with the care at the Tampa Shriners Hospital. “This is not like any other hospital we’ve ever been to,” he said. “Everyone was genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of the patients. This was all the way from the medical staff to the people in the lunchroom.”