A climber who was warned he faced the amputation of a limb has had his leg saved by a new stem cell technique.
Andrew Kent broke his leg so badly while rock climbing in the Lake District that traditional surgery failed. Doctors feared they would have to amputate his leg.
For the first time in Britain, doctors then used his own stem cells to make a glue to heal the bones in Kent's leg. It's a technique they believe could revolutionize orthopedic operations.
"I've got a good prognosis. I'm very pleased with the way things have turned out," Kent told Sky News.
He and his son were climbing in the Langdale Pikes earlier this year when a large boulder fell on his right leg, breaking it in five places.
His tibia — the shinbone — had broken through the skin just above his ankle.
He was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, England where he underwent three operations to pin his bones back together.
But his wound became seriously infected and he was transferred to the Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham.
Surgeons warned that he was likely to lose his leg unless they tried the new stem cell technique.
"Receiving that news is pretty devastating," Kent said.
Orthopedic surgeon Anan Shetty removed stem cells from the bone marrow in his patient's hip.
These were mixed with a new collagen gel called Cartifill to make a paste or glue, which was smeared into the fractures. They finally fixed his leg in a metal cage to gently squeeze the bones together.
The cage was removed at the beginning of December, six months after the stem cell procedure.
Shetty described how he had put all his weight on Kent's leg, but the bones remained solid.
"He has really surprised us. This is an amazing technique," the surgeon said of Kent. "He won't be able to run for about a year, but after 18 months his bones will have healed completely. I'm sure he'll be able to go back and rock climb again."