On Friday morning Nikhil picked up Michael and I to take us to Wrightington Hospital. The plan for the day was to start with a conference, then go to the operating theatres, tour the Charnley museum at the hospital, and then go out for dinner.
For a hip surgeon, Wrightington Hospital holds a special place among famous Orthopaedic centers. Wrightington is an old tuberculosis hospital in the middle of the countryside. In the 1950s, Sir John Charnley moved here to find a quiet place where he could work on developing various Orthopaedic implants, tools, and devices. It was here that he invented the Charnley low frictional torque arthroplasty in 1962. His implant, and the concepts that came with it, created the first successful total hip replacement and directly led to the success of our modern joint replacements. Visiting here is like visiting Graceland (if you’re an Elvis fan), or The Cavern (if you’re a Beatles fan), or The Globe (if you’re a Shakespeare fan). Quite simply, it’s where it all began.
So to be taken into a room with registrars, fellows, and consultants at Wrightington Hospital and give a talk about hip disease is an incredibly humbling experience. But what makes it humbling is the location. The people we met are incredibly gracious hosts. There is no pretense, no attitude, and no judgement. Quite simply they are a fantastic group of surgeons who approach their work assuming that they can learn something new from everyone they meet.
After our presentations We briefly sat down with Mr. Martyn Porter who presented us with tickets for a football match in Liverpool the next day. The match was Liverpool vs Leicester and was being held at the newly renovated Anfield Stadium in Liverpool. They had gone all out and gotten us a hospitality package that included dinner and drinks. Martyn was almost giddy as he described to us what to expect at the game the next day.
Then we went to the operating theatres to see a total hip replacement almost exactly like how Sir John Charnley would have done it. We alternated scrubbing with Mr. Bodo Purbach on two total hip replacements. I can best describe Mr. Purbach as a disciple of Sir Charnley and his protégé, Mr. Michael Wroblewski. He was delightfully informative, technically skilled, and charmingly entertaining. He did not shy away from controversy and encouraged challenging conventional thought.
When we were done in the theatre we met with Mr. John Hodgkinson who took us to the original Wrightington operating theatre that Charnley worked in. Not surprisingly it looked like any other operating theatre in any other hospital that I’ve visited. He also showed us an exhibit in the hospital that was dedicated by a woman who had undergone bilateral total hip replacements by Sir John Charnley almost 40 years ago. She is in her 90s now and her hips continue to be trouble free for her.
We then got a private tour of the Charnley Museum, which is currently located in temporary quarters. There were all sorts of implants, tools, and equipment there. Some represented failures, but many represented successes. All of it was a direct result of the hard work, persistence, and ingenuity of Sir John Charnley. As part of the tour we were also given several books, published by the Charnley Trust. The books included a reprint of Charnley’s book on fracture treatment, and a book of collected writings about Charnley after his death in 1982.
After the tour we were taken to dinner at the High Moor restaurant nearby. This place was a favorite of Charnley’s and frequently hosted meetings of the “Low Friction Society.” Dinner was excellent and included several consultants as well as Michael and I. Discussion included the typical issues such as Brexit, Donald/Hillary, total hip nerdiness, and the usual round of jokes. We all had a great time.
When we reached the hotel we anticipated a great night’s sleep and visions of a victorious Liverpool in our heads!