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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
'Bionic' man learns to walk again
Tony Sawkins
Mr Sawkins no longer experiences any pain and can walk again
A man who was told his leg would have to be amputated has learned to walk again thanks to pioneering surgery.

Former lift engineer Tony Sawkins, 61, from Copthorne in Sussex, badly broke his knee while at work in December 1999 and contracted the super bug MRSA.

His leg was bowed and shortened after 23 operations to try to fix it.

By employing techniques first used on young cancer patients, surgeons have replaced his knee with metal rods and a magnetic gearbox.

Specialists in London use the magnetic gear to stretch the leg.
Graphic of Mr Sawkins new knee
Mr Sawkins has had a magnetic gearbox inserted into his knee

After two failed knee replacement operations, doctors believe Mr Sawkins will not need further surgery.

He said: "It got to the stage where I was going to lose my leg if I didn't agree to have it done.

"Because I'd had so many operations on this leg and you can only take so much on one part of your body I made the decision to do it," said Mr Sawkins."

He is thought to be only the second adult in the UK to undergo such an operation.

He added: "There's no pain now but you can actually hear the motor turning which is a bit weird."

Although Mr Sawkins is unable to bend his leg because he has no knee joint, he has been able to go back to work and lead a near normal life.


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