This is the moment a man who became the first person in the UK to have his knee rebuilt using a DONOR used it – to propse to his grilfriend.
Romantic Stuart Jotham, 32, got down on his unique knee to pop the question to his missus – under the Northern Lights.
Sturat feared he’d be an amputee after he was sent flying from his motorbike six years ago when a car ploughed into him.
The martial arts enthusiast’s knee ligaments were destroyed, as well as chunks of bone from his femur and fibula, and surgeons raced to save his leg.
Orthopaedic surgeon James Murray was optimistic a reconstruction could be performed on the mangled limb.
But a suitable donor had to be found before Stuart could become the first person to have a half knee transplant.
After going under the knife at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, he celebrated by getting down on one knee to propose to Carrie under the Aurora Borealis in Iceland.
Stuart said: “It was my goal to get down on one knee under the Northern Lights and I had been planning it for a year and a half. Getting married was pretty good.”
Orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons and trauma surgeons used half of the knee, part of the thighbone and part of the lower leg bone from the NHS Tissue Bank to piece Stuart’s knee back together in a revolutionary reconstruction operation.
Surgery was carried out over a two-year period, with the most recent procedure taking place in March.
“I was excited about having operation, but I always knew it was going to be a hard, long journey,” the newlywed said.
“The latest operation was the important thing and I am hopeful that it will take my knee to a good enough level so that I can carry on doing the things I want to do with a bit more certainty.
“I want people to know how important it is for people to be donors.”
Orthopaedic consultant James Murray first met the patient several months after the crash, which happened in Stuart’s hometown of Stroud, Glos, when a car collided with his motorbike.
His right leg was left hanging off, and the mixed martial arts enthusiast, who worked as a gardener and labourer at the time, described “looking at the hole in my leg, which was open between the top of my thigh and the bottom of my ankle.”
Doctors warned it was likely he would need an amputation, as the injury had led to the loss of approximately a third of his knee, with no bone to support a reconstruction.
Medics used a large flap of skin and muscle taken from Stuart’s back as part of the inital repair, and he underwent three operations in the immediate aftermath of the crash in April 2011.
But Mr Murray was optimistic a radical procedure could be carried out using donor bone and tissue from NHS Blood and Transplant’s Tissue Bank in Liverpool, to reconstruct the ruined joint.
A mirror image model was made of Stuart’s left knee to help plan the reconstruction, and the NHS Tissue Bank was given the dimensions – but it was a three-year wait before a suitable donor was found.
The first surgery was carried out in February 2015, and in November that year the professional photographer got down on one knee to propose to girlfriend Carrie on holiday in Iceland – something which would have been unimaginable years before.
Mr Murray, who carried out the life-changing surgery, said: “Allografts with donor bone are something we use in orthopaedics to fill in bits that are missing but Stuart had lost bone, joint surface and ligaments and what we decided to do was to use a whole knee and cut out the bits that we needed.
“We used half the knee on the tibia, a quarter on the femur and the proximal fibula along with associated ligaments and cartilage.
“When I contacted the NHS Tissue Bank in Liverpool they said this had never been done before and this was the first.”
Mr Jotham added: “Being an NHS guinea pig is not a bad thing, especially when you trust your surgeon as much as I trust him.”