New hips bring new hopes
-Fourteen patients undergo replacement surgery at Georgetown Public Hospital
Stabroek News
July 25, 2003

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At 25, Roxanne Semple was confined to her bed with little hope of ever walking again following a fall while she was on vacation Barbados.

But after recent hip replacement surgery she is taking the first steps towards a healthy active life and it did not cost her an arm and a leg. In fact it cost her nothing thanks to a visit to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) by two Italian orthopaedic surgeons who led a Guyanese orthopaedic team in completing 14 hip replacements in May and early June.

All the patients are reported to be recovering well and are going through daily physiotherapy routines to allow their bodies to adjust to the new synthetic hip.

Stabroek News recently spoke with three of the patients who said the surgery had literally changed their lives. Forty-one-year-old Paula Fraser was the first woman to undergo surgery and had had difficulty walking after a motorcycle accident in July of 2000.

Fraser said she had taken an x-ray in August of that year and was told that hip replacement surgery was imperative if she was to walk again. At that time the orthopaedic doctors at the GPHC were unable to perform the surgery.

She recalled visiting St Joseph Mercy Hospital and planning to go through with the surgery despite the daunting cost. Fraser, who was an electrical installation teacher at the Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC), said family members were willing to help her in accumulating the sum.

According to Fraser, the surgery at GPHC was a success and has restored her faith in life. She says she can now stand on both legs and walk without the aid of a walker. The woman credited her speedy recovery to her following the doctors’ orders.

Thirty-seven-year-old Roxanne Semple was also in high praise of the surgery. After injuring her hip in 1991 when she fell she said she endured ten years of continual pain and walked with a limp.

She said because she was suffering from sickle cell anemia the doctors advised her to wait, after an x-ray revealed she had injured the head of her femoral bone.

She recalled losing her job due to the severity of the pain and being confined to her bed every day. “Walking was too painful, every time I took a step the pain intensified.”

The last place she worked was at the Ministry of Regional Development, as a typist.

After surgery Semple was able to walk again using crutches for support. This she said was only temporary and that the pain had now gone away.

She now intends to find a job again after years of being confined to her bed.

Mark Goodridge, the youngest of those who underwent the surgery, had his hip damaged in an Emancipation Day accident last year. He was on his way to Splashmins Fun Park when two cars collided. Three persons died but he survived with multiple broken limbs.

The accident shattered his dream of playing professional football. He was a member of the National Youth Football team and captain of the Beacon’s First Division Football Club. He was planning to go to Barbados later that August to play football on a contract programme.

After the accident he was in a body cast for months. “I was helpless, like an invalid, I could not bend, I could not sit up and my hip was not working, it was dead.” He used a crutch then put it away and initially was ashamed to go outdoors because he walked unevenly.

Mark can now walk normally and is recovering well. However he would never be able to play football again. “This is heartbreaking.” But he is still thankful to the Italian and Guyanese doctors who performed the surgery. (Iana Seales)

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