Purdue students give Rhode Island boy new leg

Lucas Resch was born with a rare condition that didn't allow his left leg to develop fully.
Published: .
Updated: .

A little boy is free to run again after an amazing medical breakthrough at Purdue.

Five-year-old Lucas Resch plays hard - and works hard, too.

"Push your ankle down," his father Ned said, as Lucas got ready to check out his new prosthesis.

"I feel like it's giving us some options for Lucas. We can either move forward with a new prosthetic, instead of the one that doesn't work very well, or move forward with surgery," said his mother, Melissa.

Lucas has a rare condition called PFFD. His left leg didn't develop fully.

Doctors suggested surgery, including amputation, but Ned says, "This seems really promising. I think they're going to come up with something. They've already come up with a design concept that's going to work."

Hoping to avoid surgery, Lucas' father went online and found a story about an Indiana boy named Brice. Eyewitness News covered that story about Purdue engineers designing a special prosthetic for the same condition Lucas has.

They contacted the Purdue engineering department and that all led to Friday's events at Midwest Prosthetics in Lafayette, when Lucas slipped on and took his first steps with the model for his own new left prosthetic leg.

The engineering students who helped were happy.

"I really knew it worked when he said he liked it better than the old one," said Theodore Kramer.

The finished leg will be lighter and more streamlined and give Lucas' good left ankle new powers.

Kramer says the device's gear box "lets the foot turn two times more than the ankle," basically turning it into a knee. It's a knee Lucas doesn't have now and without a difficult surgery.

"The hope is, he'll be able to ride his bike, keep up with his friends, have a leg that functions more like a normal leg," Melissa said.

The family returns to Rhode Island after watching Purdue's football game against Penn State on Saturday. They'll return in a few weeks for the completed prosthetic.