Herald Sun: Miracle Magnetic Surgery Helps Teenager Walk Tall

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“A teenager’s life has been transformed after surgeons used the power of magnets to trick his body into growing 6 cm of new bone….” reported Melbourne’s Herald Sun

The story reported how Associate Professor Leo Donnan used magnets to help Trophimus during orthopaedic surgery at St Vincent’s Private Hospital after Melbourne charity No Roads – Health had referred Trophy to Children First.

Prof Donnan and the hospital donated their services, and LifeHealthCare, one of Australia’s leading medical device distributors, donated all the implants, surgical instruments and external remote control machine used in Trophy’s surgery along with a staff member to offer support and advice.

Journalist: Lucie Van Den Berg
Photographer: Alex Coppel
Date: 27 November 2017
Media Release


It’s hard to believe that two boys who were born more than 12,000km apart would meet in Australia, become friends and undergo similar medical experiences together.

This is exactly what happened with Innocent and Trophimus!

Innocent is from Zambia.  He sustained serious burns when he was a toddler, leaving him with a terribly deformed foot.  When we met Innocent fourteen months ago, walking was painful and the burns contractures on his leg would have become worse as he grew.

Trophimus is from Ambasi in northern Papua New Guinea and has been with us for a year. The team from No Roads – Health met him on one of their medical missions into PNG. When Trophy arrived with the team at our Miracle sMiles Retreat he couldn’t walk without crutches.  Tuberculosis had destroyed his hip resulting in one of his legs being 10cm shorter than the other.

Innocent had skin grafts with Mr Chris Coombs at Linacre Private Hospital and both boys underwent reconstructive orthopaedic surgery with Associate Professor Leo Donnan at St Vincent’s Private Hospital. After long months of recovery after surgery they had intensive physiotherapy to begin walking again.  The boys know how important this is and inspire us with their determination to recover and return home.

It’s been a delight to watch Innocent and Trophimus make friends and grow from shy boys to confident, thoughtful young men. They’re happy, healthy and hopeful and appreciate the care and support they’ve received from Children First and everyone involved in their treatment.

The wonderful news is Innocent and Trophimus have returned home to their families and friends and huge welcomes from their communities.

Photo credits: Teagan Glenane, Children First Foundation.

Major construction and redevelopments are underway at the Miracle sMiles Retreat thanks to major grants from generous donors.

Rehab at the Retreat Stage 1.  The Physiotherapy Room

Thanks to a grant from The UPS Foundation the dream of having a dedicated physiotherapy space at the Retreat is now a reality.  The physio room will be adjacent to the living and dining room areas of the Retreat where the clothes line was located.   Being part of the house the room will allow for additional physio sessions and provide space for children to do some physio exercises privately if required for cultural reasons. Now the balloons, balance balls, foam rollers and stepping equipment that have been familiar items in the living room will  have a place of their own in the physio room.

Under the guidance of the physio team at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne, Children First has recognised the importance of physiotherapy to aid recovery after surgery, ensuring the children return home in the best possible condition.

Rehab at the Retreat Stage 2. The Hydrotherapy Pool

Major renovations of the existing pool at the Miracle sMiles Retreat are underway thanks to a major grant from  The Priceline Sisterhood Foundation.

Swimming and hydrotherapy are important fun elements of a physiotherapy program to aid strength and movement and provide recommended socialisation.   Whilst the existing pool was a great source of entertainment on hot days, it doesn’t serve as a rehab pool so the children have attended the local pool for their hydrotherapy.

Under stage 2 of the Rehab at the Retreat project, the pool will be fitted with a hoist, a retractable dome with an enclosed walkway to the physio room and will be able to be heated year round.  The surrounding area will be upgraded, the fencing relocated and non-slip surfaces will be installed.

This is an enormous project which will have major benefits for the children physically and socially, with lots of fun too.

Internal Bathrooms

In addition to the wonderful contributions from The UPS Foundation and The Priceline Sisterhood Foundation, a further grant was received from the Danks Trust to renovate the bathroom facilities inside the house. This work will include additional showers and hand basins, installation of the therapeutic spa bath, relocating the volunteer bathroom, installing new doors and tiling and painting.

This is a huge project and we are indebted to a number of people who have been fundamental in planning and progressing this wonderful project:

  • Rotarian, and long time friend and supporter of Children First, Mr Bernie Lamers AM, has most generously donated an enormous amount of his time and energy to project manage this work.
  • Ms Pauline Macleod, Manager of Allied Health at St Vincent’s Private Hospital has advised on the location of the physio room, the required equipment and its location in the room.
  • Preston Rotary has committed to funding the fit-out of the physio room.  Rotary was instrumental in building the ‘Farm’ as it was originally known, and we are delighted to have their continued involvement.

We thank everyone for their passion and commitment in helping provide the best possible care and treatment for the children. Work is expected to be completed by March 2018 and we look forward to inviting you all to the grand opening.