Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– A concrete worker from Thornton, seriously injured in a car crash, has had an unusual transplant. Doctors saved his arm by using Mike Klement as his own donor.

“It changes your life in a heartbeat,” said Klement about his serious car crash.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 118 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

(credit: Klement Family)

On April 6, Klement’s SUV was totaled in a hit-and-run along Riverdale Road in Thornton. The driver’s side door was sideswiped. Klement’s upper left arm was mangled.

“This was horrible,” he said gesturing to his arm now in a special splint.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 396 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Mike Klement (credit: CBS)

That arm was pinned in the crash and left with severed nerves, a gaping hole, and missing bone.

“About four inches of the humerus bone exited my body,” Klement told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 300 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

(credit: Klement Family)

At the University of Colorado Hospital, orthopedic specialists devised a plan to save the badly damaged arm by making Klement his own donor.

“Take his leg bone and make it into an arm bone,” explained Dr. Jason Stoneback, an orthopedic traumatologist and the Director of the Limb Restoration Program at the University of Colorado Hospital.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 723 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Jason Stoneback (credit: CBS)

Stoneback and the Limb Restoration team transplanted a segment of Klement’s calf bone, along with its living blood vessels, into the gap in Klement’s arm. The complex bone graft included skin.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 1409 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

(credit: CBS)

“So that we could check and make sure that that bone is actually alive and has a good blood supply,” said Stoneback touching the patch of implanted skin. “It’s like a window to the blood flow of that bone.”

leg to arm 5pkg frame 1079 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

(credit: CBS)

We saw Klement four months after surgery.

“Looks fantastic,” said Stoneback.

“It’s amazing that they could put it back together like that, really is,” said Klement.

leg to arm 5pkg frame 1053 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

(credit: CBS)

The arm now has a steel plate and 15 screws. Klement is undergoing physical therapy.

Gesturing he said, “I’m hoping I can do this with my thumb, extend the fingers, get some muscle growth back and be productive again.”

leg to arm 5pkg frame 2095 Doctors Use Man’s Leg To Save His Injured Arm

Mike Klement (credit: CBS)

The concrete worker will need to be patient. Doctors say improvement will come with time.

Klement’s transplant surgery in May was one of seven surgeries he has had since the crash. His most recent operation was a nerve transfer to replace the nerves destroyed when his arm was pinned.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Denver

Weather App
Future Leaders
Together 4 Colorado

Watch & Listen LIVE