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67½ years old - the THRs, not the patient!

Josephine

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A man who had the first hip replacement on the newly-founded NHS in 1948 is now a world record holder – because those hips have survived to this day.

The pensioner from Wiltshire has been listed as a record-breaker by Guinness World Records for having the longest lasting artificial hips, with experts amazed at how they have survived so long.

Norman, Mr Newman, and RNOH corridor-horz.jpg


Mr Sharp was just 23 when, in November 1948, had both new hips implanted in what was then a ground-breaking operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, near London.

Remarkably, they have remained in place ever since, requiring no revisions. "According to experts in orthopaedic medicine, this is very unusual and a recognised world record," said a spokesman for the RNOH.

"The hips, which are made of a special alloy called Vitallium, developed in the USA in 1932, were implanted by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Philip Newman in what many think was the first procedure of its kind by the then newly formed NHS. "The experimental surgery and technique undertaken at the RNOH was unusual because Mr Sharp was only 23 at the time, a very young age for a hip replacement," he added.

Now one of the oldest hipsters in town, Mr Sharp said he was chosen for the pioneering operation back in 1948 because he was a young man who was suffering from rare problems with his joints. He said he has made good use of them over the last 67 years.

"It was a brand spanking new job," he said. "I was the first patient of Mr Newman to get these and he had the courage to try them out on me. A lot of the other doctors were critical of him. I'm thrilled to think I was part of that initial pioneering work. "To think other people have benefitted from the experience they gained from working on me. I'm thrilled to pieces that I have been part of it and am so grateful to the doctors for having the courage to go ahead.

"It's not what I've achieved. It's what the RNOH has achieved and, in particular, what Mr Newman achieved to give me these hips that have lasted all these years. It's amazing now, as some of the modern hips now only last 10-15 years. I was just lucky perhaps. I rode motorbikes and went dancing – I made good use of them!" he added.

In Mr Sharp's case, for hip replacement to last so long, is testament to the skill of surgeon and the standard of engineering at the time, the RNOH spokesman added. "Norman's story is a remarkable one," said John Skinner, the present day consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the RNOH. "He's still active and still happy with his hips after all this time. The Vitallium implants are an alloy of cobalt and chromium and were very new at the time.

"Modern hip replacements have evolved through the years and are now one of the most successful operations that we have. In fact, it was termed the operation of the 20th century. The aim is to relieve pain and it is the best treatment for any pain caused by arthritis," he added.
 

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