Gordon Caley is able to work on his boat after having both hips replaced. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Dunedin man Gordon Caley has two new hips, and it has changed
his life. Barely able to walk earlier last year, the
80-year-old can now go sailing again.
The first operation, in July, was covered by the public
system. He then paid for a private operation, in November,
after realising he would struggle to qualify for another
public one. It cost about $20,000.
Having one new hip meant, in effect, he was considered less
urgent for a second.
''I've got a good hip here, a good leg, but I can't walk
properly because [the other one] is sore, and that means that
things like your knees will pack up because they're not
getting the nutrients, because you're not moving them.''
It was like having ''two tyres on the front of your car
slashed, and somebody comes along and puts a new tyre on one
side and says 'isn't that good'?''
Otago was not properly funded for its older age profile, he
believed. Asked why he should not pay for his own operation,
he said: ''I have worked all my life, and yes, I've paid
taxes, and I haven't been a strain on the health system all
Mr Caley said he had good underlying health, and gained
hugely from recovering his mobility, especially a return to
Before the operations, he was on crutches and able to stand
for only 10 minutes or so, and walk only a short distance.
Southern District Health Board surgical directorate medical
director Murray Fosbender said surgery was prioritised based
''A patient who required hip replacement for both hips, based
on need, would be eligible to receive replacements for both.
''Each hip is scored individually and, while a patient may
have benefited from a double replacement, we need to ensure
that those with the most need are treated first.
''Patients who are suffering from hip conditions, but don't
qualify for a total hip replacement, are treated by their
family doctor,'' Mr Fosbender said in an email.