A US soldier who had most of his leg muscle blown off in Afghanistan has become the first to see it grow back in a pioneering experimental operation - being injected with a growth promoting substance extracted from pig bladders.
Marine Isaias Hernandez lost 70 per cent of his right thigh muscles when a mortar exploded as he tried to carry out repairs to a truck in Afghanistan.
With such severe muscle damage Mr Hernandez would ordinarily have had his leg amputated.
But a re-think in the way soldiers are treated led to the soldier being injected with a growth promoting substance extracted from pig bladders.
Since the experimental growth hormone was used, Mr Hernandez has regained most of the strength in his right thigh.
In preparation for the operation, he was made to build up the remaining 30 per cent of muscle left on the damaged thigh. Surgeons then sliced into the thigh, placing a thin slice of a substance called extracellular matrix, a part of animal tissue that usually provides structural support to the animal cells in addition to performing various other important functions. -- THE STAR/ANN