The medical development was fascinating at the time; it's fascinating now. A toddler received an artificial arm bone, the humerus to be exact, designed to expand with him.
Here's our original blog post, with Thomas H. Maugh II writing of the medical challenges:
The prosthetic bone had to be small enough to fit in a 3-year-old's arm, durable enough to last a lifetime and expandable to allow for Mark's growth. Most artificial bones, furthermore, are used to replace only part of a bone, so they are glued securely to remaining bones. In Mark's case, the entire humerus was removed, so the prosthetic had to be attached to soft tissue.
The latest issue of Stanford Medicine Magazine details the choices faced by the boy's parents in deciding how to fight their son's cancer.
Essentially, they had three options, none of them great: Amputation of the arm. Radiation that would kill the growth plates in the affected bone and possibly allow the cancer to return. Or "replacing Mark’s diseased bone with a titanium implant that could be expanded as Mark grew. The cancer would come out, and the arm would be saved, but [the boy's parents] would have to put their 3-year-old through an untried surgery with a long, painful recovery. And the artificial bone would have to be designed from scratch."
We know how the saga has turned out thus far, but that doesn't make the story any less riveting.
-- Tami Dennis