MIRACLE man Ian McGregor finally has a chance of leading a normal life after a pioneering 18-hour operation.
Doctors had to remove his calf to take out a tumour in his left thigh, which was spreading to his pelvis.
The calf was then attached to his right arm to maintain a blood flow, before being attached to the area where the tumour was to repair the damage.
The operation was the first of its kind in the country and was carried out by specialists at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Speaking from his Hendon home today, the 59-year-old said the gruelling surgery saved his life.
He said: “The only alternative was to let nature take its course and if I did I might not be here now.”
Bosses at the Freeman say they now plan to publish a body of work on the operation and explore the possibility that it could become a new approach to surgery.
Ian was first diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and has battled the condition ever since.
But last year, medics told him and wife Janis, also 59, that he would need an operation to save his life.
“It got to a point last year where the cancer was getting really aggressive, so doctors decided the best course of action was to amputate my leg.
“But when I met with them they said they’d like to try this new operation, which was a real one-off.
“I just told them ‘do what you have to do.’
Ian was then admitted to the hospital on his 59th birthday, with the operation taking place two days later.
“The surgeons were confident but with it being the first operation of its kind, I didn’t really know what to think.
“Now it’s happened, I can’t thank them enough, they’ve been brilliant.”
Ian is now continuing his recovery at home following the surgery, which took place last August.
He is also awaiting news on when he will able to have a prosthetic leg fitted.
“I’ve got a hernia that needs sorting out and once that is seen to I should be able to get the leg fitted,” added Ian, who also has arthritis.
“I’m still on crutches at the minute and I’m experiencing phantom pains in the leg, which are very hard to explain to people.
“I’ve had health problems before and it’s been rocky road but I’m here and that’s what is important.”
Consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the Freeman, Mani Ragbir, said Ian’s surgery was highly unusual in his experience.
“We are not aware of anyone having done this particular procedure before,” he said. “It’s not easy for a surgeon to tell a patient that they haven’t done this particular procedure before.”