The current waiting list for arthroplasty surgery in the NC is close to 500 patients
WITH some having already waited several years for surgery, 18 needy patients from the Northern Cape will receive hip and knee replacements at the Kimberley Hospital this week as part of a special arthroplasty outreach programme.
The surgeries will be performed by specialist orthopaedic surgeons from around the country as part of the annual Arthroplasty Academy outreach to underserved hospitals in state facilities, following a donation from Smith & Nephew for the patients to receive hip or knee replacements.
The current waiting list for arthroplasty surgery in the Northern Cape is close to 500 patients.
The Arthroplasty Academy is a professional education programme presented by medical technology company Smith & Nephew, where newly qualified orthopaedic surgeons from state hospitals are exposed to the latest technologies and world-class mentoring in performing joint reconstruction surgery.
The surgical team doing the replacements is led by Dr Paul Rowe, from Cape Town, who selected the qualifying patients through radiological images. They are from all five districts in the Northern Cape. Their ages range from 52 to 82 years and include males and females.
“This annual arthroplasty outreach is hugely beneficial – not only does it offer arthroplasty to deserving patients in state hospitals, who have often waited many years for knee or hip surgery, but it also trains future generations of orthopaedic surgeons in the appropriate processes and surgical techniques for joint replacement surgery,” Rowe said.
“For patients, these operations mean regaining their dignity and mobility and also a freedom from excruciating chronic pain, a combination that weighs them down and often leads to depression. Many have to rely on others to do simple things, like tying their shoelaces, for them. The replacements really change their lives.”
Rowe added that Dr James Duze, the acting head of Orthopaedics at Kimberley Hospital, was part of the Arthroplasty Academy in 2013.
“He (Duze) will now be assisting me in leading eight junior surgeons in performing the surgical cases during the 2017 outreach at this hospital. It is very encouraging to see how now, as an established surgeon, he is giving back and it underlines how the Arthroplasty Academy fosters a spirit of volunteerism that enables quality elective surgery in underserved communities.”
Duze said that for him, it was like “coming full circle”. “I am delighted to help the new surgeons coming through. In state hospitals we focus on trauma orthopaedics and have little exposure to arthroplasty techniques and technologies. I benefited enormously from the Arthroplasty Academy and it pleases me to be part of helping needy patients get back to their normal lives,” Duze said.
“The junior surgeons will each have an opportunity to perform one hip and one knee surgery. In an average year we manage to do 50 joint replacements, so to do 18 in three days is just incredible for us.”
Meanwhile, patients were yesterday overcome with emotion when thinking about the chance to “regain control of their lives” after the operations.
Tomas Homsby, 74, from Brandvlei, is one of the patients who was awaiting a hip replacement yesterday. He said that while he had been experiencing problems with his hip for 14 years, he had been on a waiting list for a replacement for three years.
“I am over the moon at the prospect of getting a chance to again live a normal life. My biggest desire is to be able to properly care for my wife, who is wheelchair-bound after losing both her legs. I look forward to a significantly improved quality of life and just being able to do simple things like cutting my toenails and tying my shoelaces, as well as just spending a romantic evening alone with my wife, without anyone having to be present to help look after her,” Homsby said.
Another patient, Pieter Olivier, 72, from Kimberley, was also overcome with emotion when asked what the hip replacement would mean to him.
“After being on a waiting list for four years, I had one replacement done six months ago and it was a big success. Now, I can’t wait to have the other done. I can say that it really does significantly improve my standard of life. Currently, my room-mate has to do everything for me – from cleaning to putting on my shoes and pants,” Olivier said.
He added that he was most looking forward to being able to do things for himself and not being a burden to others. “I just want to be able to things that we so often take for granted, like work in the garden, drive a car, put on my own shoes and also be able to push my granddaughter in her pram.