It was the day after his hip replacement. With his patient care associate (PCA) at his bedside coaching him, Bryant slid his hips and legs over to the edge of the bed. He remembered the tips from the pre-operative education class he attended at the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center  — he was nervous, but ready.

Image of joint replacement patient Bryant and nurse Debi Fenton

“Pre-op class is all about setting the expectations for the post-surgery experience for patients,” says Debi Fenton, RN, Care Coordinator, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Medical Center. “While there are many elements, an important one is emphasizing that after surgery, we can’t make the pain go completely away, but we aim to manage the discomfort.”

The PCA placed the walker in front of him, Bryant extended his operated leg and stood up, using his stronger leg for support. Once standing, he took his first step, then his next. Bryant beamed — he was walking, without the limp and the pain was tolerable — 26 never felt better.

The Roaring Twenties

At 17, Bryant had his senior year of high school on his mind and the dream of college, when leukemia turned his life upside down. Bryant was treated at the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. Thankfully, advances in childhood cancer treatments offer increased survival rates for children, but these treatments can cause side effects. Some of them go away in a short time, others may never go away and some show up months or years after treatment.

One of Bryant’s side effects is avascular necrosis (AVN), a condition that occurs when there is blood loss to the bone, commonly occurring in the hip. Because bone is living tissue that requires blood, an interruption to the blood supply causes the bone to die. As AVN progresses, the pain becomes severe and interferes with mobility and use of the joint.

Bryant, now 20, woke up to a familiar ache in his right hip — he reached for his bed post, and pulled himself into a sitting position, clenching his teeth through the pain. Powerful prescription painkillers helped Bryant get through the pain, which he hated.

Bryant’s pain was pure agony. He developed a limp, which made walking even tougher. The pain held Bryant hostage and bedridden for years, causing him to gain weight. He was told the best solution for his pain was to replace his right hip, but he would first need to reach a goal weight of 250 lbs. — Bryant accepted the challenge.

Then at 26, Bryant beat cancer, but his chronic hip pain loomed over him. He knew the fight wasn’t over.

As Good As I Once Was

“It took me six years to lose 100 pounds, but I was finally there,” says Bryant. “I was nervous, but ready to take back my life, and my youth.”

Image of joint replacement patient Bryant and Dr. Andrew Wassef

Bryant limped into the office of Andrew Wassef, M.D., medical director, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Medical Center, hoping to find help.

“We emphasize that age doesn’t determine if a patient qualifies for joint replacement,” says Dr. Wassef. “No one deserves to live their life in constant pain. Age shouldn’t deny anyone relief or a chance for enhanced quality of life.”

Dr. Wassef recommended that Bryant undergo a hip replacement surgery on his right hip using Stryker’s Mako™ Robotic-arm assisted technology. The system is the latest advancement in joint replacement surgery, transforming the way joint replacement procedures are performed.

“The technology allows surgeons to create a patient-specific 3-D plan and perform joint replacement surgery using a surgeon controlled robotic-arm that helps the surgeon execute the procedure with complete precision,” says Dr. Wassef.

With Dr. Wassef’s help, Bryant would reach his ultimate goal — a pain-free life without his medications.

Four months after his procedure, Bryant not only walks, he jogs, goes out with friends, is working toward graduating from college and making up for time lost.

“Miller Children’s & Women's saved my life and Long Beach Medical Center gave me the opportunity to live it to the fullest. I can’t thank them enough,” says Bryant.

Image of joint replacement patient Bryant surrounded by Dr. Andrew Wassef and nurse Debi Fenton