When Gabi Shull was 9 years old she was diagnosed with a bone cancer that meant she would need her leg amputated, effectively ending her dream of becoming a ballerina. But thanks to a unique surgery, Shull was able to do the unthinkable: She was able to dance again.
Following a below-the-knee amputation that saved Shull’s life, the doctors performed a rotationplasty, a surgery that, according to PopSugar, attached her foot, rotated 180 degrees, to the bottom of her upper leg.
While this may sound strange, for those who want to keep doing the sports and activities they love post-amputation, it’s a complete life changer. Woman’s Day explains that after doctors removed the knee joint, they attached the foot, positioned backwards, which allows the ankle to function as a knee.
The foot is then fitted into a prosthetic, which allows for optimal movement: When Gabi points her foot, the prosthetic is straight, and when she flexes her foot, her prosthetic leg bends. The amazing degree of movement allows Shull to dance “en pointe.”
While this surgery may be the answer for some facing amputation, it’s important to note that it may not be the type of surgery for everyone. “It’s a unique surgery,” Shull, who is now a spokesperson for Dancers vs. Cancer and Truth 365 — a campaign dedicated to giving a voice to children fighting cancer — explained to People. “It’s not for everyone.”
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