Georgia girl's ankle, foot reattached backward to create new knee after cancer diagnosis

Grace Bunke, 12, is determined to run again after undergoing a revolutionary procedure to create a new knee joint.

Grace Bunke, 12, is determined to run again after undergoing a revolutionary procedure to create a new knee joint.  (

A Georgia sixth-grader who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and elected to undergo a radical procedure that would require her ankle and foot to be reattached backward is determined to run again.  

Grace Bunke, 12, was an active child who enjoyed soccer, running and playing outside until she started experiencing leg pain, reported. In August 2014 doctors at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta diagnosed with her osteosarcoma and presented her with three options.

“I remember my doctor sitting next to me and saying, ‘You have three choices,’” Bunke told “And I got really mad.”

Doctors told Bunke that she could either receive an artificial knee that would keep her leg intact but prevent her from running, have her leg amputated above the knee and be fitted with an artificial knee and leg, or elect to undergo rotationplasty. In this procedure, the cancer is removed from the knee joint, and then the ankle and foot are amputated and reattached backward to create a new knee joint that is fitted with a prosthesis, reported.

“The only thing I want to do is run. That’s the only thing I want to do,” she told the news station.

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“When they described what she could do with [rotationplasty,] I think her choice was immediate and automatic,” Vicki Bunke, Grace’s mother, told

Bunke underwent weeks of chemotherapy before undergoing to the procedure. After a year of intense physical therapy and reliance on a wheelchair, she was outfitted with a prosthetic that slips over her new knee.

“I didn’t trust it at first, when I would land on it. But I got used to it,” she told the news station.

As Bunke builds up her strength, she’s taken up a new hobby in swimming competitively.

“I want to show everyone there that even though I have a disadvantage, I can do the same thing they can do,” she said.

The family has since gotten used to Grace’s new look, and find themselves forgetting anything is abnormal about her leg.

“I don’t notice it,” Vicki told the news station. “I think, ‘that’s just Grace.’”

Bunke returned to the hospital in late September for a checkup, where doctors found no evidence of cancer.