'At first it was shocking, but we're used to his foot-knee now' - teen has foot reattached to replace knee joint after cancer battle
A teenager whose foot was amputated and reattached backwards to replace his knee joint has re-learnt to walk after battling cancer.
Tristin Stewart, 15, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of soft tissue cancer known as synovial sarcoma in his right leg last June.
He needed an above the knee amputation in order to survive but this would leave him with functioning difficulties if he wore a prosthetic.
So doctors opted for a rotationplasty – an revolutionary operation that involved his foot being amputated, his shin and knee removed, and his foot rotated and reattached.
This allowed surgeons to recreate a knee joint using his foot to enable the football mad teen to continue with his favourite sport.
Tristin, from Co Tyrone, now has a prosthetic that attaches to his foot-knee and has recently re-learnt to walk.
Tristin's mother, Mandy, 32, said: "Tristin was so brave throughout the whole process, until he was told that he'd have to have an amputation.
"The thought of not being able to play football or do any sport destroyed him - he's always been an active boy.
"Tristin was initially scared before the operation, and he marked his right leg to make sure that they took the right one off.
"When we first saw his foot-knee it was very shocking – but we're all used to it now.
"He loves sport so much that he's now hoping to one day become a Paralympian and he's currently focusing on trying to run with his prosthetic."
Tristin's cancer journey first began in March 2014 when he started suffering from crippling pain in his right leg - but doctors disregarded it as growing pains as he was only 12-years-old.
However the pain persisted for two years and in February 2017 he had a lump removed from his leg which was later identified as a cancerous tumour.
Mandy said: "When we found a lump near Tristin's knee his dad, Shane, 33, took him straight to the doctors and an MRI scan revealed he had a cyst.
"We were told that it's likely the cyst wouldn't cause any harm to Tristin, but he wanted to have it removed anyway so in February he did.
"However ten days later he was called back to hospital, and this is when we were told that the cyst was a tumour – and it was cancer.
"We were then given two options – they could undergo a full amputation of Tristin's right leg, or a rotationplasty.
"It took a couple of weeks before Tristin turned round and confidently said he wanted the rotationplasty, he told me 'Mummy, that means I'll have a knee and more function.'
"On June 7 2017 Tristin then had his operation, and we were told it was the first of its kind to happen in Northern Ireland.
"When we went in to see him after the operation you could see under the covers that his leg was gone, and Shane and I were nervous to see what underneath.
"It was a very strange sight and it was something almost supernatural to see – but it saved my boy so that's all that matters."
Since his operation, Tristin has been learning to walk again with his prosthetic attachment and is now focusing on learning to run again.
Mandy added: "After his operation he had to have his foot forced to be completely straight, so that it would work as a knee joint.
"Now he has just come off of using crutches and can walk freely with his prosthetics.
"He's doing really well at the moment and his main focus is on one day being able to run and play football again.
"Despite his cancer being slow growing, there's always a chance of it coming back one day, we're just taking every day as it comes."
Tristin and family are now raising money for a prosthetic that will allow him to run again, to donate visit: https://www.gofundme.com/tristins-dream