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Daniel’s Story: Defying the Odds

Rare orthopedic surgery saved Daniel Khan’s leg

Dan's Story In Content

The hospital room fell quiet as the nurse asked him to wiggle his toes. He thoughtfully gazed down at his left leg through the large metal frame screwed into his bones. He focused intensely on his toes. Three moved, and the room burst into celebration.

Daniel Khan soon pieced together how hope, persistence, and the skilled hands of surgeon surgeon Indresh Venkatarayappa, MD, with Premier Orthopedics and two of his partners, Brandon Horne, MD, and Jennifer Jerele, MD, helped save his leg.

A Race Against the Clock

On Sept. 29, 2017, Daniel was standing by his parked car on his Centerville street cleaning the windshield, when a car came from behind and struck him. His mangled left leg was gushing blood. A quick-thinking police officer applied a tourniquet, saving him from bleeding to death. 

Daniel arrived at a local emergency department with an open fracture and neurovascular injury. Surgeons repaired the vascular injury but said the overall damage was so severe that they recommended amputation above the knee. 

Daniel’s family asked for a second opinion, and the next day he was transferred to a Columbus hospital where surgeons also recommended amputation. His still-open injury was now four days old, and infection was setting in. Desperate to save Daniel’s leg, one of his brothers called a family friend who practiced medicine in Centerville. The call introduced Premier Health surgeons to Daniel’s case for the first time, and led him to Dr. Venkatarayappa and Premier Health plastic surgeon Michael Johnson, MD, FACS with Advanced Plastic and Hand SurgeryOff Site Icon, and they agreed to take the case. 

“We were not expecting it,” Daniel recalls. “We were mentally and emotionally preparing for amputation. ”

Dr. Venkatarayappa arranged for surgery the following day at Miami Valley Hospital. Together, he and Dr. Johnson repaired Daniel’s broken bone and then sliced a piece of soft tissue from his healthy leg, sewing it to his left leg, in a rare procedure known as Cross Leg Flap surgery. The shared tissue would feed nutrient-rich blood to Daniel’s injured leg. His legs would remain connected by this tissue for 55 days.

A metal frame was attached to both of Daniel’s legs from his hips downward, immobilizing his lower body. A series of surgeries over the next 10 months removed pieces of the frame bit by bit to enable increased movement while keeping his leg bones aligned.  

Partner in the Journey

Daniel stayed in the hospital for nearly 40 days. He has nothing but praise for the staff who kept him healthy and comfortable. “From a service perspective, I’d give them a 5-star rating – the doctors, nurses, and the support system – it was all so great.” They even helped him celebrate his 46th birthday just four days after the surgery. 

Daniel marvels at Dr. Venkatarayappa’s dedication to his care, as well. “He checked in on me like every day, even on the weekend. Sometimes just to say hello.”  The doctor also was in frequent contact with Daniel’s brothers by text, updating them and answering their questions.

Dr. Venkatarayappa helped Daniel and his family set realistic expectations by explaining how progress would happen slowly and in phases. “To build a positive attitude, you’ve got to have the right expectation, and that’s what he gave me,” Daniel explains. “He really did an outstanding job communicating.”

Over the winter, spring, and summer, Daniel slowly built his daily steps from around 800 in February to nearly 8,000 steps today. 

Finding His Stride

In late August, Daniel returned to work as vice president at Synchrony Financial in Kettering. He expects it will take another six months before he can resume hiking, something he loves. 

Daniel knows he’s come a long way and is fully aware of how things could have gone. Perhaps most telling is a conversation he recalls with Dr. Venkatarayappa. “He said — even though he’s a doctor and hates to use the word — ‘It’s a miracle, and we’re so glad we did this for you.’”

Content Updated: May 13, 2019

These Miami Valley Hospital locations offer Orthopedics Services.
Orthopedics at Miami Valley Hospital
One Wyoming St. Dayton, OH  45409
Looking for a specific department or phone number?
Visit the Miami Valley Hospital Directory.

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