Norfolk bone bank benefiting patients
Dan GrimmerPatients in Norfolk are benefiting from more complex hip surgery than ever before but this would not be possible without the donation of bone by patients who have had hip replacements.Dan Grimmer
Patients in Norfolk are benefiting from more complex hip surgery than ever before but this would not be possible without the donation of bone by patients who have had hip replacements.
Each year at least 500 patients undergo routine hip replacements at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and about 120 receive bone donated from other patients.
Thanks to a licence to operate a human bone bank at the N&N it means bone which would usually be discarded during these operations can be used to help people who need more complex hip reconstruction.
Janet Holtaway has run the bone bank for the past 11 years and it is supervised by orthopaedic surgeon John Nolan.
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If patients did not agree to donate bone, some of the procedures which are carried out would not be possible.
Ms Holtaway said: "Having a human bone donated for an operation can make a big difference for patients who need hip surgery and it is great that people agree to give their discarded bone. I review patients' notes to see if they can donate and unfortunately some of them can't because they may have had previous health problems. If someone has had cancer we cannot risk using their bone in case there is a cancer cell in there; if they have had tuberculosis they also cannot donate as this disease has known to spread to the bone."
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Many patients have a simple hip replacement - which involves the thigh bone being replaced by a metal ball and pin - and do not need donated bone. But others have complications or severe bone deterioration and need more complex surgery.
Paul Stern, 43, from Cromer Road, Norwich, said his life would not have been the same if he hadn't been given donated bone for his third hip replacement last year at the N&N.
The hydrographic surveyor developed Perthes' disease, a fairly rare condition where the top of the thigh bone softens and breaks down, at the age of five.
He had this first hip replacement when he was 16 but had to have another after a fall. This joint lasted 10 years but two years ago he had to have another.
Mr Stern, who is married to Carol, 33, moved to Norwich a few years ago from London and he had heard about the work of Mr Nolan and the bone bank.
He said: "I received nine femoral heads (thigh bones) which means my operation was the result of nine people donating bone. I am extremely grateful to these people as I lead a normal life now.
"I was only in hospital for nine days, recovered really quickly and have been told my new hip should last between 20 to 30 years which is fantastic."