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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Artificial hip lasts sixty years
William Jefferies
Sixty years on Mr Jefferies artificial hip keeps him mobile
A war veteran has made history with a hip replacement joint that is still going strong after 60 years.

William Jefferies, aged 86, underwent the operation to temporarily repair his hip in 1947 after being shot in Burma by a Japanese sniper.

But six decades on, the metal joint which was fused in place with a bone graft, is as good as new.

Surgeons said the operation's success was astonishing as modern hip replacements last about 15 years.

Mr Jefferies was a private with the 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, when he was wounded in 1944.

After an initial operation in India on his shattered left hip, the wound became infected and he was shipped back to England.

He was bedridden for two years before having surgery in Exeter to fuse a metal cup into his hip socket.

"Doctors did say that they wanted to replace it to be on the safe side a few years ago but I didn't want to go through it all again."
William Jefferies

The joint slipped out of place after four months but Albert Jowett, an orthopaedic surgeon who died eight years ago, fixed the cup back in place with a bone graft from Mr Jefferies right hip.

Pioneering

Mr Jefferies, a retired electrical engineer from Chippenham, Wiltshire, said he was delighted when doctors told him they could fix it as he did not think he would be able to walk again.

"But no one knew how long it would last because it was such a new procedure.

"Doctors did say that they wanted to replace it to be on the safe side a few years ago but I didn't want to go through it all again."

Hip replacement surgery is now commonplace in people with worn or damaged joints and at least 50,000 procedures are carried out in Britain each year.

In the modern "total" hip replacement both the socket and the ball at the top of the thigh bone are replaced with artificial parts.

Hip replacement X-ray
Modern hip replacements have a lifespan of about 15 years

They are made from metal and plastic and tend to wear down and become loose, with an average lifespan of 15 years.

Ashley Blom, head of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Bristol said: "It is absolutely astounding that his hip replacement has lasted 60 years.

"I have never heard of anything like this before.

"He is incredibly lucky."

A spokesperson for Guinness World Records said it was a fantastic achievement.

The record for the oldest total hip replacement record is held by Marie-Ange Quillon of France who received the artificial joint in 1969.




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