By CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4)– After years in a wheelchair, an amputee from Basalt is thrilled to be walking with a new artificial leg. This one attaches directly to his thigh bone. Assaf Dory said the now fully FDA-approved procedure has given him his life back.

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“It’s amazing,” Assaf told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

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He was able to walk side by side, holding the hand of his 11-year-old daughter, Mechal. It is something most parents take for granted, but not Assaf.

“I’ve never done that,” he said. “Today was actually the first time, ever.”

Assaf said, when he was a deputy sheriff in Florida, he shattered his leg in 2001. He has endured chronic pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS) and eventually amputation above the knee. Pain using a prosthesis kept him in a wheelchair.

Assaf said he has had 45 surgeries, but the last two at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (PSL) changed his life.

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“It’s so incredibly easy to put it on,” Assaf said as he attached his artificial leg to a permanent implant in his thigh.

In June 2020, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Lerman inserted a titanium rod into Assaf’s femur. It’s a procedure called osseointegration.

“Allowing the bone in the femur to in-grow into the metal,” explained Lerman.

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Then in September 2020, plastic surgeon Dr. David Schnur attached the skin.

“We want the skin to heal right down to the femur bone,” said Schnur. “So, there’s a barrier between the femur and the outside world. We’re finding that there’s less issues with infection.”

Assaf’s artificial leg snaps onto a connector at the end of the metal implant.

“We can’t put anybody’s leg back on, but this is the closest thing we’ve been able to do,” said Lerman.

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There have been more than 500 of these surgeries worldwide.

Assaf is the first to get the now FDA-approved implant at the Institute for Limb Preservation at PSL. He’s still working on managing his CRPS, but he’s staying positive.

“The first time I stood up, I started crying,” he said. “It gave me back my body.”

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And it did wonders for this father’s heart.

Kathy Walsh