By: 10 May 2016
Still hip after all these years: 91-year-old man has world’s longest lasting hip replacements

Still hip after all these years: 91-year-old man has world’s longest lasting hip replacements

A 91-year-old man has been recognised by Guinness World Records as having the world’s longest lasting hip replacements. Norman Sharp, of Somerset, (pictured) had both new hips implanted in November 1948 in a ground-breaking operation at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore and they have remained in place ever since, requiring no revisions. According to experts in orthopaedic medicine, this is very unusual and a recognised world record.

The hips, which are made of a special alloy called Vitallium, developed in the USA in 1932, were implanted by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Philip Newman in what many think was the first procedure of its kind by the then newly formed NHS. The experimental surgery and technique undertaken at the RNOH was unusual because Sharp was only 23 at the time, a very young age for a hip replacement.

“It was a brand spanking new job,” said Sharp. “I was the first patient of Mr Newman to get these and he had the courage to try them out on me. A lot of the other doctors were critical of him. I’m thrilled to think I was part of that initial pioneering work. To think other people have benefited from the experience they gained from working on me. I’m thrilled to pieces that I have been part of it and am so grateful to the doctors for having the courage to go ahead.

“It’s amazing, as some of the modern hips now only last 10–15 years. I was just lucky perhaps. I rode motorbikes and went dancing – I made good use of them!”

John Skinner, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the RNOH said: “Norman’s story is a remarkable one. He’s still active and still happy with his hips after all this time. The Vitallium implants are an alloy of cobalt and chromium and were very new at the time. Modern hip replacements have evolved through the years and are now one of the most successful operations that we have. In fact, it was termed the operation of the twentieth century. The aim is to relieve pain and it is the best treatment for any pain caused by arthritis.”