‘Bionic’ hips keep Bob sailing at 87

June 2011

Hip surgery can be a daunting prospect, especially for older people, but 87-year old Bob Lewis from Earlswood, near Solihull, has already been through five operations and has no plans to slow down yet awhile.

A founder member of Earlswood Lakes Sailing Club, Bob has been sailing for over 50 years and regularly enters club competitions and helps tutor local schoolchildren, proving that extensive hip surgery need be no barrier to doing the things you enjoy. 

“I just love sailing and although I’m very fortunate, in that I enjoy good general health, the surgery has definitely helped to keep me on the water,” says Bob, who received a commendation from Stratford-on-Avon District Council in 2006 for his work with a group of youngsters visiting from Belarus, and last year won Earlswood Lakes Sailing Club’s Spring and Summer Saturday Pursuit titles while also helping a 13-year old to victory in the Novice Endeavour Cup.
Bob originally had two hip replacements and then went on to have three additional revision operations.  One of his most recent revision operations turned out to require more complex surgery and he was referred over 12 months ago to orthopaedic surgeon Trevor Lawrence, a consultant at Solihull’s Spire Parkway Hospital.

In Bob’s view the skill of the surgeon is paramount, but the fact that he maintains a healthy weight and keeps up the recommended exercises also helps to allow him to continue his favourite sport.

In addition to hip replacement and revision hip replacement, Mr Lawrence specialises in knee replacement and arthroscopy. When Bob’s wife Sheila, 82, began to struggle with her mobility because of knee pain, she turned to Mr Lawrence who performed knee replacement surgery which enabled her to regain her fitness and independence.

“Patients know that hip replacement surgery will end their pain, but they wrongly believe that the surgery can only be performed once and that hip replacements only last 10 years,” says
Trevor Lawrence.

“In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Hip implants are extremely robust – I’ve had patients who have taken up new hobbies or returned to sports they love – including five aside football and skiing – with renewed energy and confidence. And, as Bob Lewis has shown, just because you need a new hip or require revision surgery, it doesn’t have to stand in the way of you leading a full and active life.”

Bob adds: “I was in my sixties when I first had hip surgery and over time, I’ve needed further operations, so it is very reassuring to know that, when wear and tear takes its toll, a revision will restore the situation.

“I understand the concerns people have, but would encourage anyone facing a hip or knee operation, whatever their age, to seek expert advice so that they fully understand the problem and their options, then adopt a positive frame of mind and get on with it. Of course I get twinges now and then, but I am essentially free of pain and able to enjoy life which, for me, means sailing once or twice a week!” 

For two of his operations Bob Lewis donated and then received his own blood. Autologous blood transfusion – the collection and reinfusion of the patient’s own blood – is the safest form of transfusion therapy, but for Bob, whose blood is group O Negative, the issue is also that blood is a much-needed, but limited resource. Due to the misapplication of a European law, the right to have pre-operative autologous blood transfusion has been withdrawn. Bob feels this is a mistake and that anyone, particularly those with precious O Negative blood, should be encouraged to consider this option – a view that is supported by enlightened surgeons like Trevor Lawrence.

Bob Lewis is campaigning for patients to be given the option of autologous blood transfusion. Further information is available at www.autologousblood.org.uk.

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Bob still sailing!

Orthopaedic surgeon Mr Lawrence with 87 year old Bob Lewis after hip surgery.

Read more about Mr Trevor Lawrence

Useful link

For advice on hip surgery visit www.replacementhip.co.uk

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)