Medical game changer could improve lives for millions

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 22, 2017

Sometimes life can change in the blink of an eye. It happened for one man when a crash turned his world upside down. But now with the help of new life changing technology, he's taking steps toward a life he didn't think was possible.

It may seem normal now for Gary Molock to play a game with his family or make his daughter lunch, but not too long ago Molock couldn't do any of it.

"Everything leading up to it you know was just your average day you know?" Molock says.

Nearly three years ago Molock was driving his delivery truck when he saw another truck coming across the median straight at him.

"I just braced," Molock recalls. "I remember putting my head down and just bracing."

The crash pinned Molock inside.

"The ambulance pulls up and one of the EMT's gets out and says, 'Is there any sign of his legs?'" Molock remembers. "I open my eyes and I'm like what did you say? And I remember I kind of just popped up and look down and I've seen my legs were gone."

It was a tough new reality for this husband and father used to doing things for himself.

"I was scared," Molock says. "I was scared. I didn't know what to expect."

Molock got prosthetic legs after weeks of therapy and surgeries. While he was excited to walk again, he didn't expect so much pain to come with it.

"I would get up and I would walk maybe 100 feet," Molock says. "And then have to stop because it would become too painful for me to walk."

Dr. David Schnur, a plastic surgeon at Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center connected Molock with his colleague Dr. Ronald Hugate, an orthopedic surgeon at Presbyterian/St. Luke's. After 10 years of research, Dr. Hugate had developed a rod made of porous metal that could be implanted directly into a patient's leg bone. The patient could then connect any prosthetic, eliminating the need for a traditional socket and reducing the risk of infection.

"I thought to myself you know Gary would be a very good candidate for this," Dr. Schnur says. "The advantage of the porous metal is that the soft tissues can grow into that metal that has all those holes within it and really incorporate it into the body." 

Molock got the surgery on his right leg. And after weeks of healing, he tried out his new prosthetic for the first time.

"When I go to stand up it like stimulates the brain to think that this is my natural leg here," Molock says. "So when I go to get up it feels I actually feel like this is my real leg."

There's still more work to be done before Molock uses his new prosthetics full time. But he considers every step toward that day a gift.

"There's no reason to be sad and hate life you know I get to see my wife and my girls," Molock says. "I'm grateful for everything and honestly every moment that I am up and use my legs I'm happy."