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Darrell's new lease of life after ankle op.

PROUD dad Darrell Walker can't wait until his nine-month-old son Jack is old enough for a football kick-about - something he feared he might never manage due to a long-term ankle injury.

Four operations had failed to mend the ankle he injured playing football nine years ago and the pain was getting to the stage where it sometimes prevented him from walking more than a few yards at a time.

But the banking sales director, who lives with his wife Aimee in Nuneaton, is now back on his feet, playing golf, cycling 30 miles at a time and - best of all - able to carry young Jack on his shoulders without any trouble at all!

An ankle fusion operation carried out by foot and ankle surgeon Mr Mark Herron at BMI Priory Hospital in Birmingham, was Darrell's 'last throw of the dice' after four previous operations did little to alleviate the pain.

"I was at a point where I didn't really know what to do next so I did a bit of research and discovered that Mr Herron was an actual expert in foot and ankle surgery. From our first meeting I was confident he was the one who could make a real difference and I wasn't wrong," said Darrell.

Mr Herron explained: "By the time Darrell came to see me he was being woken by pain most nights, could only walk for about 30 minutes at best and was even struggling when driving on anything other than short journeys. On top of that he was unable to do any form of sporting activity.

"His CT scans revealed that only the ankle joint itself had been affected by the fracture which was a good sign as the total movement of the foot and ankle is only partly through the ankle.

"There are other joints in the immediate vicinity that can still allow a good range of movement. It is possible to run and even play sports on a fused ankle."

A fusion is the surgical process during which an arthritic bone is carefully removed and new bone stimulated to form across the previously moving surfaces. Effectively the joint becomes welded together - a process which is aided by the use of large titanium screws across the joint. This should result in the pain from the arthritic joint easing massively or usually disappearing altogether.

Mr Herron added: "A relatively common alternative to fusing the ankle is to replace the joint. However, ankle joint replacements are still some way behind both the hip and knee replacements in terms of their longevity and so, in younger and more active patients, who wish to return to sport, such as Darrell, it is something I would try to avoid."

Now, with a second baby on the way, Darrell is looking forward to putting the 'double buggy' to good use with lots of long walks for dad and babies.

"I've gone from being unable to sleep because of the pain to becoming active and fit again and now I'm going to be able to have a kick-about in the garden with my kids - and that's what every dad would love to do."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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