Every day, lives are saved through surgery. This week the Herald takes a look at some of our country's most extraordinary operations - from a thumb being replaced with part of a toe, to part of a bike being removed from young girl's groin. Health reporter Emma Russell reports on some of the remarkable stories.
Trevor Strong looks like any other man - but he's one of the few people in New Zealand to have an actual leg of steel.
Earlier this year, the 76-year-old was told his leg, right from the top of his hip, would need to be amputated because of cancer in his bone.
• Rare op gives boy bright outlook
• Simon Wilson's cancer diary part 5: How the surgeons will slice me open
• Op gives Sativa's parents renewed hope
• Premium - Medical revolution: how we're re-training our bodies to kill cancer
"I was devastated. It would mean I'd never be able to walk down the beach with my wife again," Strong said.
Then, orthopaedic surgeon Mike Hanlon came up with a different option - cutting his leg open to replace his entire femur, knee and hip with an metal implant and sewing it back up again.
The procedure is so complex, one wrong move and it could all fail.
The eight-hour surgery involved cutting his leg open and removing the remaining portions of his limb and bone before replacing it with carefully constructed hip, knee and femur implant, made of steel, and screwing it together with neighbouring body parts to make sure it was at just the right tension and length.
Hanlon had done the operation once before so knew it was possible, but there were still a lot of risks involved including blood clots, nerve damage, bleeding out, abnormal alignment or his body rejecting the implant.
"When you are dealing with tumours, you do have the opportunity to do things which are pushing the envelope a wee bit, because the alternative option is amputation," Hanlon told the Herald.
Burns expert: White Island victims facing months of fighting for their lives
National promises health targets, mulls future of DHBs
Fortunately, it went without a hitch.
He spent two and half weeks in hospital, being closely monitored for any infection. In comparison, knee replacement patients usually only stay in hospital for up to three days.
Two months down the track, Strong is up and walking with the help of a crutch, but still has a long way to go before he makes a full recovery.
Strong said knowing he wouldn't be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and could continue taking long walks down the beach with his wife meant the world.
"It's a matter of having of a good life really."