HSS Surgeon Saves Woman’s Leg from Amputation

New York magazine—June 19, 2006

After seeing five doctors following a troubled hip replacement operation in Connecticut, it seemed Patricia Bennett’s only option was leg amputation.  She hoped for a miracle.

“I’m 66, and my husband isn’t well: he’s had strokes, he’s diabetic, I do the laundry and the shopping and – just about everything,” Bennett said.

Geoffrey Westrich, M.D., associate attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, was her answer.

“I first saw Mrs. Bennett on January 12, 2005.  She had a terrible deformity of the left leg; it was markedly shortened and swollen.  She was at risk of losing it,” Westrich said.

After looking at her X-rays, Westrich told her, “The last thing we want to do is take off your leg.”

Dr. Westrich performed a two-stage operation that involved making an artificial femur that would be stable enough while providing a sufficient dose of antibiotics.

“It almost brings tears to your eyes when you listen to her talk about her recovery,” Dr. Westrich remarked.  “She was so debilitated for so many years, and now you watch her walk, and it’s night and day.”

“I’m almost back to myself again,” Bennett said. “I do everything in the house.  I came home and I painted all the cabinets in my kitchen.  I’m planning an 18th birthday for my granddaughter.  I tell everybody I’m in love with my surgeon.”

Read an Internet version of the New York magazine article.

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