|Dhinella is a high-spirited young woman whose courage and determination helped her beat the odds stacked against her. She was only two years old when her mother and sister died in a horror car crash while the family was travelling from Winterton to Pietermaritzburg.
Dhinella survived the crash together with her father and her older sister but the death of her mother and her young sister was a traumatic experience made even more difficult by the constant jeering from her classmates after her injuries resulted in her losing the length of her left leg. Dinhella broke her leg in the accident and as a result her left leg was bowed and 4cm shorter than her right leg.
"My legs felt as if they could snap at any moment and that didn’t help my self-confidence - my classmates teased me because of my limp and they called me ‘hop-a-long’. I cried so much that I became really depressed."
Then this feisty young woman heard about the Ilizarov procedure. She heard that it was a device for the healing of complex and infected fractures and the lengthening of bones.
She approached a surgeon who had been recommended to her. He explained that bones could grow if they were gradually distracted or pulled apart using an external fixator consisting of circular steel haloes connected by rods and fixation wires. He explained that the method takes advantage of the body’s remarkable ability to grow new bone tissue. It involves the surgical application of a circular metal frame called an Ilizarov fixator. Fixator rings are attached to the limb to hold the bone segments in place while the new bone tissue is growing and maturing. Dinhella was cautiously optimistic:
“When I first heard about the Ilizarov method and about the fixator from Smith & Nephew, I didn’t really know what to expect and my family was initially afraid as there was a risk that I could lose mobility.”
She spent four days in hospital after the procedure where the 2,5kg fixator was attached to her leg and then waited five months to see the results. Dinhella worked with an orthopaedic surgeon who made gradual adjustments to the fixator. This increased the gap between the bone segments, adding length to her left leg and ensuring that new bone tissue grew in the gap, ultimately hardening the area between the segments of the original bone.When the Ilizarov fixator was removed five months later she couldn’t wait to get rid of the crutches and go dancing! As she said:
“Five months is not much to sacrifice for a better future. I am so glad I had the procedure done because it was a complete success except for the scarring and the best thing I have ever spent money on!”