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Eight-year-old basketball player needed 11-hour operation to get new leg

Henry Horton is used to overcoming challenges
Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 17:20:56-05

MORROW, Ohio - A bone deficiency at birth hasn't stopped 8-year-old Henry Horton from starring on the basketball court. He draws the opponent’s best defenders – and usually more than one.

That can be frustrating, as when Henry’s St. Margaret of York team played St. Nicholas Academy recently.

“You're not allowed to double-team unless I'm in the lane. And usually I'm not in the lane, and there's already three men on me,” Henry explained.

But Henry is used to overcoming challenges, and being triple-teamed is nothing compared to the condition he was born with and the operation he needed to get on the court in the first place.

Henry seems like your typical 8-year-old. He is - and he isn’t. His mom remembers the day he was born.

“He was just so cute. And he was crying. And everything seemed normal to me,” said Stacy Horton.

But everything wasn't. There was something wrong with Henry's left leg. X-rays really didn't help.

“Nobody knew,” said his dad, Garrick. “This is the first case any doctor at the hospital that we were at had ever seen.”

Henry was born with a bone deficiency known as PFFD - proximal femoral focal deficiency. His femur didn't calcify until he was 2. He was also born without a fibula.

Just minutes old, Henry needed help.

And so the Hortons’ odyssey began - from Children’s Hospital here to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. There, Henry got a new leg three years ago -  a prosthetic leg that allows him to play basketball so well he attracts all those defenders from opposing teams. But that operation was more than a challenge.

It took 11 hours. His leg was amputated below his knee.

“They actually remapped all the muscles and tissues and they actually, for easy terms, attached it, but backwards,” said Garrick.

If that sounds like some modern-day medical miracle, it is. It's an operation so rare, only about four are performed a year.

Henry had his right before starting school. Meeting his new classmates was a bit overwhelming.

“When I'm in kindergarten, the first day of school, kids are way different than me,” Henry remembered. “I'm like, ‘I can’t get scared.'"

But different is often better. Henry's got a pretty good handle on that. He’s due for another operation in a couple of weeks. And then, it'll be time to play some baseball.

He just knows how life is going to be then.

“Awesome,” Henry said.