Elbow surgery breaks ground in New Zealand


Hamilton local Jim Davey was recently profiled on Stuff.co.nz after visting Braemar Hospital.

To read the Stuff article online, Click here.


Stuff.co.nz online
By Donna-Lee Biddle


HJim Davey1amilton man Jim Davey said the pain in his elbow was so unbearable, he contemplated ending his life.

He had lived with the severe pain, caused by rheumatoid arthritis, for a long time.

“It was close to 10 on the scale for several years,” Davey said.

“I’ve got two wrists, both elbows and shoulders that need to be done and arthritis is part of that, too.

“Every day I had to have fentanyl [pain medication patches] to help me get through.”

The 66 year old now has a new elbow made of plastic and metal.

The surgery, performed by Sydney-based surgeon Jeff Hughes, aided by Waikato surgeons Thin Hong, Chris O’Meeghan and Sandeep Patel, was live-streamed to a dozen surgeons and medical staff at Braemar Hospital.

It is believed to be the first time this demonstration has occurred in New Zealand.

“It’s amazing what they can do, it sounds very blase, but it’s actually really spectacular. You go to having an elbow that’s worthless to [having] a life with possibilities,” said Davey.

“It’s frustrating trying to do things, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do.”
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Davey is a retired builder of 25 years and has always been on the “edge of life”.

“I don’t think I’ll be working again but who knows? I won’t be going back to building – maybe I’ll try it out as a journalist,” said Davey.

His wife, Marea, said a new elbow meant “he can now help out with washing the dishes – that will be great! No excuses now.”

The prosthetic joint has been used only twice in New Zealand since it was approved by United States authorities last year. Davey was on the Waikato Hospital waiting list for elbow surgery and was offered to have the surgery at Braemar for free.

Braemar Hospital chief executive Paul Bennett said it goes to show just what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together.

“All of the services provided by Braemar to Jim are free of charge. We are only too happy to do that. It was a fantastic learning experience for everyone involved.”

“I just want everyone like me to know that there are options there,” Davey Said. “You don’t have to live in all this pain.

“Now all I’ve got left to do is fix the other side of my body and I’ll be good to go.”


Imagery by Mark Taylor