Two UK trips, two brand new hips!

Saipan resident Russell Quinn discusses the ‘phenomenal experience’ of his bilateral Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) operations. He has twice travelled across the world for surgery with Mr McMinn…

It has been quite a journey for me that started in 2005 at age 40.  I was very active in triathlons, off road triathlons, competitive beach volleyball (2-man), snowboarding and various other hobbies, including golf, ultimate frisbee, soccer and adventure racing.  I loved being active and adventuresome.   I had never experienced any serious injuries, the only surgery I’d ever had was having my wisdom teeth pulled.  I seemed to be defying age… or so I thought.

On my early morning training runs I started to notice a dull pain in my groin.  It progressively got worse and felt like a pulled muscle.  I took a week off hoping it would get better and then two weeks and then a month; it didn’t get better.  I went to a physical therapist and they gave me a regiment of stretches and strength building exercises.  After two months of no results, they took an X-ray and informed me that I had osteoarthritis in my right hip.  The prognosis was a catastrophic total hip replacement.  The advice was to wait as long as possible to have this surgery.  They prescribed me NSAIDs and told me to still be active but not to run. I was devastated.

As I shared my prognosis with others a friend who happens to be a Physician Assistant told me about a friend of his who had the same thing who’d had a Hip Resurfacing and that the person was back doing all the activities he had before.  I immediately looked it up and came upon a group site called ‘Surface Hippy’ that was run by a wonderful lady named Vicky Marlow.  This site provided all the information I needed.  There were many people that had had the surgery or were getting ready to have it.  There were stories of people getting their quality of life back, it was addicting to go to the site every day and learn about this relatively unheard of procedure.

After a few weeks I was hooked and reached out to one of the top doctors in the world, he immediately replied to me and answered all my questions and I felt ready to make the jump. However, at the time I started taking supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin and my pain levels dropped from an 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) to a 4.  At this point I took on homeopathic remedies that included yoga, deep tissue massage, TENs treatments, ROLFing and anything I could find relief in.  I would have days where I thought I was winning the battle and nights where I knew I was not winning.

About two years ago after a two week snowboard trip, my hip just felt done.  It did not recover like it had before and I was dragging my leg around and in constant pain.  I went back to my PT and they did their best to give me more aggressive treatments, but they only provided temporary relief.  I started to revisit the ‘Surface Hippy’ site again and once again became excited by the stories.  In the 7 year period between when I first visited this site and now, FDA had approved the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) device. Other devices were having legal issues and many doctors were improperly installing the devices which caused many failures.

I contacted Vicky with a list of 6 doctors (3 in the US and 3 abroad) and she provided me with an up to date spreadsheet of pricing, days in hospital and travel expenses.  As I compared the pros and cons it became clear to me that Mr McMinn was my first choice. He was considered the best of the best, using the best device.  I contacted the McMinn Centre and they immediately replied and answered all my questions.  I decided to go for it and booked a surgery within 90 days.

As I was making preparations to go to Birmingham (the “h” is silent) England, I found two other individuals that had booked surgery for the same day as me.  I reached out to them and we did a conference call with another individual that had just had surgery with Mr McMinn. Armed with everything I needed, the day rapidly approached to regaining my active life style back.

A map showing a flight from Saipan to the United Kingdom

Russell twice made the long haul journey from Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands to Birmingham, UK for hip surgery with Mr McMinn.

I arrived in England with my wife and made my way to the hospital for final preparations and to meet Mr McMinn. After spending 15 minutes with Mr McMinn, he had answered all my questions and addressed any concerns I had. He was very personable and I didn’t feel rushed or the feeling that he had somewhere else to go.

I checked in on a Monday to be in theatre on Tuesday.  The room accommodations were above average with internet, cable television, a large bathroom area and were comfortable. The nursing staff were very attentive and briefed me on my estimated time for surgery.  I had a restful sleep that night.

The next morning I woke, showered and waited for my turn. By late morning, I was wheeled up to the pre-theatre put to sleep and woke up some time later asking if it was done.  The nurse affirmed that it was done.  I was wheeled to my room where I met my wife and had the best tomato soup I’d ever had.  I slept away the remnants of the anaesthesia.  The next morning I had a hardy breakfast and then Mr McMinn came in to tell me how it went. Perfect. The nursing staff removed my epidural and as feeling came back to my legs, the Physio staff came in to get me up and walking.  With a walker, I was moving up and down the halls and feeling like a champ.

The rest of the week was more walking with crutches, working the stairs, up and down and eating really well.

Upon leaving I didn’t think I would be back.  I went home and did my physio and recommended exercises.  At 3 months I was swimming, at 5 months I was riding a bike and 9 months I was snowboarding and at 11 months I was playing competitive beach volleyball (winning my first tournament back).  Life was good… no, great!  I was pain free on my surgically repaired hip.

However, I was feeling a familiar feeling on my left hip.  I quickly went in and had an x-ray and found out that my other hip was now experiencing bone on bone osteoarthritis and that I would eventually need it replaced.

Fresh off my phenomenal experience with Mr McMinn, I sent in my x-rays and booked my second trip to the UK in a years’ time.  As with the first time, everything went like clockwork and I was the proud recipient of my second Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) installed by the world’s foremost expert.

Recuperation went as well as my first hip (which was now a year old and doing great).

I have been extremely happy with my new hips.  I have no pain and rarely think about them.  I have slowly gotten back into the sports I love, the first being biking.  In December I entered a Century Road Race in which I placed in my age group.  It was so impressive to those that knew me that I was nominated and received “Athlete of the Month”.  It was an honour to receive this recognition but the shocker was that out of all the other individuals that received the same award over the previous 12 months, I was voted at Male Athlete of the Year for the Northern Marianas Islands!

I was able to get back out to the beach and play competitive volleyball and in my first tournament back with both hips won the tournament!  There was no pain, and I was jumping higher than before and moving quickly on the court.  I was loving it.

Other sports that I have returned to are: surfing – this was the first sport I had to give up as my range of motion would not allow me to stand up.  It was such a great feeling to stand up and surf a wave after not being able to do it for 9 years.  I also used to be a pretty decent triathlete and was able to get back into that.  I did my first off road triathlon called Xterra this past April and came in second overall on a Sport Course. Each year I go to Japan for a 3-week snowboard trip and this year with my two new hips, I was more fluid and comfortable on the board than I had been in years.  There was no pain! Other activities I am back to doing pain free are: golf, running, mountain biking and hiking. I don’t feel there are any restrictions to what I can do.

I am so happy with the results of this procedure.  I would recommend it to anyone who is suffering from hip pain!

- Russell Quinn

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