Growing Up With Magnets

June 26, 2009 10:35:22 PM PDT
Almost 1,000 people find out they have bone cancer every year, and the majority of them are children. The disease makes growing up a painful experience, with dozens of surgeries. Now magnets are helping kids keep their limbs and grow up without pain.He swings, slides and kicks just like any other 10-year-old, but Donavan Busacca's life has been anything but ordinary. He was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer at age six.

"It really felt like somebody had punched my stomach and I was still gasping for air," Donavan's mother, MaryAnn Busacca, told Ivanhoe.

Months of chemo left him weak.

"Sometimes I'd stay in the hospital from three days to five," Donavan told Ivanhoe.

Treatment didn't end there. The cancerous bone had to be removed. Put in its place -- a special prosthesis. Once a month, for just 20 minutes, Donavan puts his leg in a magnetic device. The magnet turns the expandable prosthesis, lengthening it.

After one day's session, Donavan is four millimeters taller.

"What we're doing now is trying to keep them growing, keep their legs equal in length, and getting them back into school and doing the things they want to do," Douglas Letson, M.D., an orthopedic oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., told Ivanhoe.

For Donavan, that means playing with his sister.

"He never stops, and nothing stops him, and I think that's what makes him a hero himself -- because he's not afraid of challenges," MaryAnn said.

He's a young boy who's ready to conquer any of life's hurdles.

Dr. Letson's clinic in Tampa is the only one in the United States currently offering the new procedure. Sometimes the prosthesis wears out by adulthood, but if this happens, it can be replaced with a more

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Moffitt Cancer Center
Tampa, FL
(813) 745-2297

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