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10-year-old cancer patient gets second chance with unique surgery that rotated her foot

Harper Claar was diagnosed with bone cancer in May
Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 19:17:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After 81 days in the hospital, 10-year-old Harper Claar will finally get to leave Children’s Mercy Hospital on Thursday and go home.

In May, Harper started to have knee pain. Doctors diagnosed her with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

"It pretty much encompassed her whole distal femur, so closest to her knee," Harper’s mother, Genesa Stark, said.

Doctors immediately took action, treating her first with chemotherapy, followed by a unique surgery called rotationplasty.

As part of the procedure, surgeons removed part of her upper leg and then rotated her lower leg 180 degrees. Her foot, which is now backwards, will function as her knee, said Dr. Allyson Hays, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Mercy.

“Essentially her ankle becomes her knee joint, and she could use that for prosthesis in the future," Hays said.

Harper’s parents hope this option gives their daughter her life back.

"Nobody wants to have to take part of their kid off. But, you get the cancer off,” Stark said. “I mean no matter what, we were taking that cancer out of her.”

The Johnson County 10-year-old has a long recovery ahead, but people who know her said she's the definition of a fighter.

"She's just determined to get through this. She's determined to make things work. She's determined to be better and be happy and be herself through all of this,” Stark said.

Harper said she’s just happy to go home and, most importantly, see her family dog again.

"Thanks for helping me and being really nice," she told the doctors on Wednesday as she got ready to leave.