First Dates star amputee, 20, was inspired to pay £64,000 to have his SECOND leg cut off after watching TV vets operate on a DOG
- James Bertrand lived in constant pain due to twin-to-twin transfusion disorder
- Rare affliction means one of the unborn children gets more blood than the other
- Mr Bertrand, from Chalfont St Peter, Bucks, is now almost pain-free for first time
A reality TV star plagued by a rare condition paid £64,000 to have his leg amputated – 18 years after his other limb was also removed.
James Bertrand, 20 – who appeared on Channel 4’s First Dates – lived with constant pain due to blood clots caused by twin-to-twin transfusion disorder.
Having exhausted all medical options in the UK, he travelled to Australia where a surgeon eventually agreed to operate.
Bizarrely, Mr Bertrand was inspired to pursue osseointegration surgery – which involved hollowing out the bone and fitting it a prosthetic limb – by an episode of Supervet in which a dog had the same procedure.
Brother beyond: James Bertrand (right) photographed with twin brother Tom in July 2018. Mr Bertrand paid £64,000 to have his leg amputated – 18 years after his other limb was removed
Reality TV: James Bertrand (right) pictured on Channel 4’s popular romance show First Dates
Beyond surgery: Mr Bertrand, pictured at the gym in September 2018, following his surgery
‘If I hadn’t have watched the show then I would never have thought to ask about it,’ says Mr Bertrand, from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire.
‘I didn’t think much of it [the episode] at first. It was actually my mum who asked the question and that’s when it became a possibility.
‘We asked my doctors in Dorset about it and they said it’s already being done on humans. It’s funny how it happened really.’
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Born prematurely at 28 weeks with his twin brother, Tom, his condition means he developed blood clots in both his legs, so his left leg had to be amputated when he was 18-months-old, and he wore a traditional ‘socket’ prosthetic.
His remaining right leg was also severely damaged with no main artery, which meant his foot couldn’t move, he had no muscle in that leg, and he was in constant pain.
‘My right leg got worse as I grew up and I couldn’t walk on hard surfaces without shoes on. My leg was just so sensitive. It was causing me more problems that my left. I went to see a consultant and he told me that my right leg had to go.
Boy power: The siblings were born prematurely at 28 weeks due to their rare blood disorder
‘He basically said ‘it’s a stick’ and wasn’t functional. I burst into tears. I couldn’t imagine not having any legs.
‘Deep down I knew it was the right thing to do but I struggled to come to terms with it straight away,’ he added. ‘It was causing me pain but it was still my leg. I started to think about the things I wouldn’t be able to do anymore.
‘I’d never be able to feel the ground when I stand up again.’
But, determined to be pain-free, he raised £60,000 to finance the surgery, which took place in May.
Now he is almost pain free and it has ‘transformed’ the way he walks.
Loyal: James and Tom photographed in May 2018 as he completed a 5K run before the surgery
Determined: Keen to be pain-free, he raised £60,000 to finance the Australia-based surgery
He took his first steps without crutches in August and has gained five inches in height due to the new longer limb.
His new leg also allowed James to stand up in the shower for the first time, and has increased his mobility and given him a new lease of life.
‘I can never stub my toe or stand on a plug socket, which is great. But I can do anything that I want to.
‘It’s early days but it will be life changing for me,’ he says.
‘At first I did regret it because the recovery was so hard. It was mentally draining.
‘I’m hoping to go travelling to Thailand, Indonesia and Bali some time soon. I’m a positive person and just had to stay strong.’
Staying positive: ‘I’m hoping to go travelling to Thailand, Indonesia and Bali some time soon. I’m a positive person and just had to stay strong,’ Mr Bertrand says
Inspired: James (right) hopes to inspire others into being brave by talking about his life
Family affair: The brothers pictured with their father Graham (left), sister Kitty (second from left), Sophie (fourth from left) and mother Carolyn (right), who travelled with him down-under
WHAT IS TWIN-TWIN TRANSFUSION SYNDROME?
Twin-twin transfusion syndrome is a rare but serious condition that can occur in identical pregnancies when twins share a placenta.
Abnormal blood vessel connections form in the placenta and prevent blood from flowing evenly between the babies.
One twin then becomes dehydrated, which affects its growth.
The other develops high blood pressure and produces too much urine.
This leads to an enlarged bladder and excessive amounts of amniotic fluid, which can put a strain on the twin’s heart, leading to heart failure.
Without treatment, TTTS can be fatal for both twins.
Around 300 twins die from the condition every year in the UK, while 6,000 babies are affected annually in the US.
Draining excess amniotic fluid can help to improve blood flow.
If this is not enough, laser surgery is used to seal shut abnormal blood vessels and permanently disconnect them.
The surgeon then drains excess fluid.
Even when treated successfully, most TTTS babies are born premature.
However, the majority go on to have long, healthy lives.
Source: Cincinnati Children’s hospital
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