Wigan nurse makes history with pioneering hip surgery
A Wigan nurse has made history after becoming the first person in the borough to have her hip replaced and return home in the same day.
Charlotte Cusick is one of just a handful of people in the country, and the first for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust, to enjoy such a short stay in hospital for the procedure.
The 36-year-old required the procedure because she had suffered a growth problem in her left hip since childhood but it had got worse, with “excruciating” pain leaving her unable to continue her family’s active lifestyle.
However, by her own admission Charlotte was “petrified” of taking such a big step as having a hip replacement.
But by good fortune she found herself sitting down with Wrightington Hospital consultant orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Board, who was looking for pioneering patients to start a pilot project for hip operations in a day.
Charlotte said: “It was a flippant comment from me. I told Prof Board that if I could have it done in a day I would go through with it. He told me that we could have a look at that.
“I was shocked to be told Prof Board was keen on doing a hip replacement. I wasn’t ready for it at all.
“It was just fear, not knowing what I was going to be like afterwards, the surgery itself. Even on the day I was telling people I couldn’t do it.”
Prof Board said: “We were in the process of putting the pilot scheme together and had just been given the go-ahead to look for patients.
“I saw Charlotte in clinic and talked about length of stays and reluctance to have surgery and I thought; ‘I’ve found my first patient’.
“She was very scared and on the morning was a bit tearful, which makes it even more astounding that she was able to put herself through it.
“For us as a hospital it was the end of a long planning process with a lot of people. There was a lot riding on it. People were looking at what we were doing.”
Charlotte admits to being overwhelmed by the level of interest in her story, with a video of her walking down the hospital corridors on crutches attracting 22,000 views and hundreds of comments on Facebook.
She said: “I’d told my colleagues, family and friends what I was doing so I posted a message to say the surgery had gone fine and I was coming home.
“The response was crazy. I got messages from people I had never met on Twitter and I’m still getting messages now from people waiting for surgery wanting to know how I’m doing.”
Charlotte arrived at Wrightington Hospital for surgery and was soon in the operating theatre, determined to be back in her New Springs home that night with husband Aaron and three children Mae, Aron and Evan.
She was back on the ward by 11.40am and after lunch started physiotherapy. As she felt fine she was able to start walking on crutches, first to the door and toilet and then by mid-afternoon down the corridor and to a flight of stairs.
Everything went smoothly and by early evening she was on her way home in the car.
Prof Board says this is just the latest in a series of breakthroughs which have transformed the experience of having a hip replaced.
He said: “It was quite a big step for us. The average length of stay is three or four days now. Some have gone home quicker but Charlotte is the first to go home on the day of surgery.
“Originally the length of stay was about 30 days and even in the early 2000s it was more than a week.
“Anaesthetic techniques have got better, pain relief has improved and we understand now that patients can do more than we used to allow them.
“We did keep a bed free for Charlotte just in case though.”
Just over a fortnight after the surgery Charlotte said she is delighted she overcame her misgivings and went through with the operation.
She is now looking forward to getting out and about again and has even set herself an athletic target.
She said: “I feel good, the difference is just brilliant. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
“My main focus was on getting home. Even in the anaesthetic room I looked at the clock and was thinking I might be home in a few hours.
“The first few days were a bit rocky but I’ve no pain now.
“I’m looking ahead to going back to work now and hopefully starting walking again.
“We usually spend our weekends walking around Haigh or going up to the Lake District. Last summer I wasn’t able to do very much.
“I would also like to do the 10k in September, though I will need to speak to Prof Board about that!”
Both Prof Board and Charlotte are keen to stress that, although more patients may choose the same route she did in the future, there will be no obligation on patients to have hip replacements in a day and the process will not be suitable for many people.
Prof Board said: “The hospital is not about to start saying patients have to go home on a certain day.
“This is for patients who have a suitable level of independence, fitness and the motivation to want to go home, like Charlotte did.
“They go home when they are comfortable and independently mobile. It’s about criteria for discharge, not time. Everything that normally happens to patients was also offered to Charlotte,
it just all happened on one day. We’re not taking away care from patients, they are receiving it all.”