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FOX Medical Team

Breakthrough prosthetic device aids girl

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MIAMI -

A medical breakthrough may spare a young cancer survivor from having to undergo one surgery after another as she gets older. It's a prosthetic device that can be expanded painlessly as her body grows.
 
Veronica Avila is only seven, so she has a lot more growing to do. But because she had bone cancer, doctors had to take out a large piece of her femur and replace it.

"It affected her growth plate, which is the area of the bone that children grow from. It's how the leg gets longer over time," said Dr. Sheila Conway of the University of Miami Health System.

But at Miami Children's Hospital, doctors found a device that can be expanded without the need for painful surgeries.

The medical breakthrough involves a prosthetic that can be expanded with non-invasive procedures.   It will allow veronica's leg to grow without the need for several operations, which almost eliminates the possibility of future infections.

"Previously, the prosthesis that we'd put in had to be lengthened with a procedure in the operating room several times a year for the entire child's growth. In this case, we were able to put in a prosthesis that can be expanded over time with the use of an external magnet," said Conway.

Veronica's parents fought back tears, after the surgery, saying their daughter is cancer-free for the first time since her diagnosis -five months ago.

Her father says he is incredibly thankful for the breakthrough that helped save his daughter's life and for the donations that helped pay for the procedure.

Veronica is also feeling thankful. When asked about her Christmas list, she says she already got what she wanted: a chance at a cure.

Doctors say the process of expanding her prosthetic will not be painful for her and it only takes about 20 minutes each time.
 

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