Spire Liverpool Hospital helps get fencer back on his feet

22 October 2014

A fencing expert is back winning medals after ‘life-changing’ knee operations.

Andy Thornton - president and coach of the Liverpool Fencing Club – thought his fencing career was over three years ago when hereditary arthritis in his knees made any form of exercise or sport virtually impossible.

But now, after two full knee replacements at Spire Liverpool Hospital's Bone and Joint Centre, Andy is back competing again.

Andy said: “The arthritis rapidly became a severe impairment, not just to my fencing life, but to my life as a whole; from walking my dog to shopping, working or even just standing. Anything at all that required me to put weight on my knees left me in excruciating pain.”

Andy Thornton Fencing Spire Liverpool

Doctors agreed that Andy needed a full replacement on each of his knees, however, at the age of 49 he was told he was too young for the procedure.

Andy told us, “This was so frustrating because I needed to be active now. I’d just got married and was looking forward to holidays abroad and exploring the countryside. I needed to be able to walk, to do everyday things like everyone else, not to mention the fact that I missed competing.

"Fortunately I was referred to the Bone and Joint Centre, where consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Alasdair Santini explained that advancements in the materials available for knee replacements meant that he was prepared to consider operating on me – an offer which turned my life around. I got lots of information and was comfortable to make the decision to go ahead with this."

Andy underwent surgery last year and had both operations completed within six weeks. “Everything went very smoothly with both operations: I even walked to the toilet on my own just hours after my operation which surprised my physiotherapist.

“The staff and support at Spire Liverpool Hospital was fantastic. Sometimes they would push me to exercise harder and sometimes tell me to slow things down a bit, but my confidence and mobility improved much more quickly than I expected.”

Since his operation 12 months ago, Andy has made fantastic progress and is now running for the bus, cycling and is also the proud owner of a bronze medal from a recent fencing competition.

Alasdair Santini said: “Being too young is a well-quoted reason for not offering patient's knee replacements, as if they are too young then they will wear them out and require a revision procedure or even a revision-of-a-revsion. In this case, Andy's knees were so bad that we weighed up the pros and cons and decided that it was in his best interests to replace his knees at a younger age to give him the best quality of life possible.

"Andy had a high performance zirconium knee called the Journey. In my opinion, this gives an excellent outcome, with a knee that gives high flexion and a more 'normal' feeling knee coupled with a high wearing surface that, hopefully, will last him many years.” 

Andy said: “Thanks to Mr Santini and the staff at Spire Liverpool Hospital, I have been given a new lease of life and can now enjoy doing the things I love for longer. I may be fully bionic now but I can still show the youngsters a thing or two! I’m not planning any marathons or anything, but if you see someone running for a bus and wishing this could be you, well, it could be.”

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