Former RNOH patient has world's oldest hip replacements

World’s oldest hip replacement patient

A 91 year old man has finally been recognised by Guinness World Records as having the world’s longest lasting double hip replacements. Norman Sharp, from Trowbrigde, Wiltshire, had both new hips implanted in November 1948 at the RNOH and they have remained in place ever since, with no revisions. According to experts in orthopaedic medicine, this is very unusual and a recognised world record.

The hips were implanted by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr 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.

Mr Sharp said: “It was a brand spanking new job. 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!”

In recent years, some modern hip replacements have failed, causing severe pain for patients that have required removing the old implant and replacing it. These problems occurred, in some cases, only after a few years. 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.

John Skinner, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the RNOH said: “Norman’s story is a remarkable one. He’s still active and still happy with his hips after all this time. The vitallium implants are an alloy of cobalt and chrome first developed in 1932 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 Twentieth century. The aim is to relieve pain and it is the best treatment for any pain caused by arthritis.”

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