Oscar, the cat who lives in on the Channel Island of Jersey together with his guardians Kate Allan and Mike Nola. He got in an accident in 2009 where he had both his hind paws severed by a combine harvester.
In October 2009, Oscar was two and a half-year old when he got into an accident when he was in a maize field near his home in Jersey. His paws of both his hind legs were severed by a combine harvester, the legs were cut between the ankle and the foot. Luckily Oscar was found by a passing cyclist who brought Oscar to his owner’s home, Mike Nolan. He was at home when the woman brought Oscar who was at that point covered in blood, they were convinced that Oscar had to be put down. Kate Allan, Oscar’s other person and Mike took him to the local vet, Peter Haworth.
“He was out in the corn fields. He was found by a neighbour. He had no back feet left it was horrific. There was blood everywhere. Bits of his skin were hanging off.” Says Mike Nolan.
Close To Death
Peter Haworth, a vet at the New Era Veterinary Hospital, dresses Oscar’s wounds and gives him painkillers while he had lost a lot of blood and was barely conscious. He was close to death… Then Haworth referred Allan and Nolan to the Surrey-based neuro-orthopaedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was their last change. While most cats can do just fine with three legs, it’s difficult for a cat to live with only two.
After looking at X-rays and keeping in touch with the Irish surgeon Fitzpatrick, the vet decided that Oscar would be an ideal patient partly due to his young age. Not long after that Oscar was flown to the United Kingdom by air cargo, although he had to stay in his box for eight house during the journey.
Oscar’s owners weren’t sure about the surgery, but decided to go ahead with the operation anyway. The reason for uncertainty was because an operation like this had never been done before. Although the operation which was done by Noel Fitzpatrick was the first in the world, it mimics a natural process, being similar to the way deer grow antler bones, in the manner that the implants grow through the skin.
The implants were both custom-made to fit into the holes drilled into Oscar’s ankle bones, those implants are known as intraosseous transcutaeous amputation prosthetics and were developed by the head of University College London’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Gordon blunn and colleagues. They created a honeycomb structure which enables the skin to bond with the implant to keep infections away. The implants are places into the holes that were drilled in the ankles, which then allow for a “sock” to be fitted over the implants. Oscar will now have to be a house cat because the false limbs are not suitable for outdoor life.
“The real revolution with Oscar is that we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone. We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an ‘exoprosthesis’ that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal’s limbs to give him effectively normal gait. This means they fix their artificial limb with a sock, which fits over the stump”
The ITAP technology is being tested on humans. Fitzpatrick has said he would welcome a collaborative approach with other surgeons working on human amputations.