By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – It has been two weeks since two amputees had breakthrough surgery here in Denver. They are the first patients ever to get permanent leg implants designed by a Denver orthopedic surgeon.
Army Veteran Jace Badia is excited about his progress.
“Everything looks phenomenal,” Badia told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh during a visit to the CBS4 Studios.
He maneuvered around the TV studio in his wheelchair, but he is not content to sit.
“Being in a chair is not ideal for my type of life,” said Badia.
An explosion in Iraq put him there. In November 2006, the Army staff sergeant lost his left leg below the knee. He came to Denver for his 85th surgery, the first of its kind.
“So far, it’s amazing,” Badia said.
On Feb. 21, Badia had a metal rod inserted into his thigh bone. It is called an osseous integration implant and it has been done before.
But the porous metal collar on this one is the design of Denver orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ronald Hugate. The idea is skin and tissue will grow into it and create a barrier against infection.
“This is the pylon as it’s protruding from my leg,” Badia said showing the end of the rod sticking out of his leg. “This is the permanent prosthesis which is installed into the femur and it will be protruding from my leg the rest of my life.”
It eliminates the need for a socket-type prosthesis. The permanent rod will connect to a prosthetic leg.
“I’m excited. I can’t wait until this thing is at the level where I can start walking, relearning how to walk and continuing on with my life,” said Badia.
For now, he needs to be patient. Doctors say give it another four weeks or so. Badia plans to head home to his family in Georgia and then come back to Colorado to try out his leg.
Badia is grateful to an organization called Operation Ward 57.
The non-profit helps wounded service members, their families and loved ones around the country. The group also paid for Badia’s four-week stay in Denver.