A Columbus, Ohio man who has struggled since birth with cerebral palsy received a life-changing Christmas present.
Justin Heckathorn, 24, said the pain was so great he had to drop out of college. On Tuesday, he underwent surgery to fix that at Mount Carmel New Albany.
"Now our hip joint is sort of like a ball and socket mechanism and with what we call displasia or congenital dislocation of the hip, the ball never forms in the socket," said Dr. Adolph Lombardi. "So you combine that abnormality with the spasms that he's getting from the cerebral palsy and now you have a young man who just can't walk."
Dr. Lombardi took on the surgery after other surgeons said it would be too difficult.
"This is going to take several hours. I have to reconstruct the pelvis, probably use some bone graft from the patient," Dr. Lombardi said. "I have to position the cup in the right orientation. The anatomy is all distorted. And then I'm going to have to release certain muscles to balance this hip because of the spasms from the cerebral palsy."
The hope is that Justin can one day put weight on the legs.
Heckathorn's mother, Laurie Galownia, says they celebrated Christmas early this year, knowing the best present was to come on Christmas Eve.
"It was back in the beginning of November when we scheduled this, when we met with Dr. Lombardi and he said that was his first opening and Justin's like I'll take it because it's gonna mean no more pains so it's gonna be the best Christmas gift, "Galownia said. "To have hope for an active future again."
Heckathorn played on his college wheelchair team. He said he wants to go back to school to finish his degree in computer forensics and criminal justice.