I would never go back,” former paralympian Kerrod McGregor says with absolute certainty.“For one the leg never falls off now.” And for a guy who is constantly hoping in and out of bobcats and large trucks for his job having a leg that stays on is a vital thing.Kerrod became Australia’s 23rd ILP patient in July of last year and hasn’t looked back since.At age four Kerrod become an amputee after a horrific accident where he got his leg caught in a grain feeder at a piggery. But Kerrod is not one to feel sorry for himself, not even for a second and he maintains losing his leg was the best thing to have happened to him.
For 20 years he travelled the world competing at four Paralympics wining gold, silver and bronze medals and in such events as javelin, long jump, discus, high jump, shot putt as well as the pentathlon and it was through being an amputee that lead him to his wife. He is a firm believer, life is what you make of it and with the right motivation and drive you can excel at anything you put your mind to.
He first heard about the osseointegration about 12 years ago when it was first being performed in Germany. He talked to fellow paralympian and friend Brendan Burkett about the possibility of having the procedure but it was little more than talk back then. But that all changed last year when Brendan gave him a call on Kerrod’s 50th birthday and told him he had been the first patient to have osseointegration in Australia and after walking with the new leg for a year he gave it the thumbs up. Wearing a suction socket was all Kerrod had ever known and while he never let it hold him back from what he wanted to achieve there were many frustrations. The leg was constantly losing suction and falling off especially every time he got in and out of a truck and after years of walking hitching his hip his back was in a world of pain and he’d had a “gutful.”
Hearing Brendan give the procedure the tick of approval was all he needed.
He figured he had nothing to lose and only benefits to gain. With a child sized femur Kerrod wasn’t a textbook candidate but where there is a will there is a way and with Dr Al Muderis’s ingenuity combined with Kerrod’s motivation and drive he was walking at the same rate as a fellow ILP patient who underwent the operation at the same time. As a former athlete Kerrod was used to giving his prosthetic legs a good trashing and has broken a fair few in his time. Now he is more cautious with the activities he does but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Now he can sit comfortably and with good posture in the cab of the truck and when he gets out there is no chance of the leg losing suction and slipping off. When working under trucks in the past he would take his leg off which proved frustrating when he needed to walk to the shed to get a tool. The socket was cumbersome and time consuming to slip back on and it meant he could never wear long pants. Now he can slip the leg on and off with ease and walking to the shed for that tool is no longer an effort.
Kerrod is still making gains with his walking but there is no way he would go back to the socket system and is quick to recommend the surgery to other amputees.
And now if you are standing near Kerrod’s truck when he is exiting you are not going to get hit with a flying leg.