“New knee has given me back my life”

Edna Wright, 79, from Dibden near Southampton, was three years old when she contracted polio in her right leg: so when the knee in her ‘good’ leg began to cause her pain she was worried that she may not be able to walk properly again. 

However, thanks to a complicated yet successful knee replacement operation at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre Edna is much more mobile – and she is full of praise for the care she received.

Edna’s surgery was complicated because, when she was 14, staples were put in to her ‘good’ leg in order to stop it growing in the hope that both legs would end up the same length.

Her orthopaedic surgeon at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre, Christopher Waller, explained the risks to her. Edna said: “Chris was great, really honest with me. He explained that some of the staples would need to come out so that he could replace the knee joint and kneecap, but that there was a risk that damage would be done if they were removed and that this would make it impossible to carry out the surgery.”

She added: “I was devastated that my ‘good’ leg was packing up. I had a choice: to continue as I was and probably end up in a wheelchair; or go with the surgery and hope for success. Up to the age of nine I struggled to walk and sometimes needed a wheelchair.

“I didn’t want to return to that. I also felt that I owed it to everyone who had fought so hard to help me walk throughout my life – from doctors and nurses in my childhood to Chris in the present day – to have the surgery. And I am so pleased that I made that choice.”

Christopher Waller, hospital director at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “Edna had an operation as a child on her unaffected left leg to fuse the growing end of the thigh at the knee, to stop the left one growing much longer than the right. These staples have been present since childhood. Her ‘good’ knee developed arthritis to the point of looking for help.

“I did her knee replacement, being able to position the new one between the old staples. She now has a normal leg again, allowing her to maintain her independence. It was a complicated procedure, and we are all delighted that it has been a success and that Edna is so happy with the outcome.”

It was not just the surgery at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre which impressed Edna: she was also overwhelmed by the quality of care she received.

She said: “I have grown up with hospitals and I have to say that this was an amazing experience. Everyone was so caring, the hospital was so clean, and the food was so good that I even put on weight! The aftercare is excellent too.

“I have spoken to friends who have had knee replacements at private hospitals and the standard at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre is by far the best. I compared knee scars with a friend who had had her knee replaced at a private hospital and my scar was much less noticeable than hers, and that’s because I was given good advice and support to keep good care of it when I got home.”

Edna added: “From being in constant pain and not going out at all, I’m now free from pain, taking longer walks and enjoying my garden – something I couldn’t do before because I couldn’t kneel.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that Chris Waller and his colleagues at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre have given me back my life. I’m recommending the hospital to everyone and my advice is – you’ve got a choice so go there.”

Southampton NHS Treatment Centre offers a wide range of planned, elective surgery and treatment including orthopaedics (such as hip and knee replacements), eye surgery (such as cataract removal), general surgery (such as hernia repair and gall bladder removal), ENT, oral surgery, gynaecology, urology, pain management and X-ray and ultrasound.

It is part of the choice available for NHS treatment. If a patient’s GP agrees that they need treatment (or optician for eye surgery and dentist for oral surgery), he or she can ask to be referred to Southampton NHS Treatment Centre for their care.