William’s Story: New Advances Meant Surgery Was Now an Option

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The road to William Lake’s future is open again, thanks to successful joint replacement surgery.

“I was always told that nothing could be done,” says William Lake, born in 1951 with a development disorder known as dysplasia. “But now, life has sure changed.”

Indeed. Lake sold his motorcycle a few years ago due to his decreased mobility, thinking those wild, fun rides were over for good. But now, incredibly, he’s considering buying another motorcycle. Lake’s life has taken a dramatic turn through a series of surgeries that has alleviated some of the damage his dysplasia had caused.

Since birth, dysplasia affected Lake’s joints – hips, knees, shoulders, fingers, torso – causing cells to grow abnormally. This resulted in defects, such as angled deformities and one leg being shorter than the other. Doctors told his parents that there was nothing that could be done. It was a diagnosis that dysplasia patients would hear for decades, and many still do.

Lake is uncomplaining and matter of fact about his growing-up years, with joints he jokingly describes as “20 percent worn out when I got them.” His mobility varied – some years he could actually run, but for two years he wore a brace. “That’s how I was born. You deal with it,” he says with a shrug, although he admits there has been pain every day of his life.

Declining Mobility  

Lake earned a living, married a wonderful hometown girl named Marcia, and together they raised their five children. He was living a full life. But medically, things were getting rougher. “My joints were getting worse and mobility became tougher,” Lake reports. “My knee would often become dislocated, and that meant a trip to the emergency room. I gave up my motorcycle when I couldn’t handle it anymore.”

Lake had a total knee replacement on his right knee in 2004. The surgeon then recommended Lake visit orthopedic surgeon Dennis Brown, MD of Premier Orthopedics, part of Premier Physician Network, to see if he could perform more complicated procedures necessary for the other joints. Dr. Brown was becoming well-known in the community for helping people with dysplasia.

“William’s X-rays showed grossly abnormal joints,” reports Dr. Brown. “I really was surprised he could function, and was surprised to learn he was not taking pain medicine. That’s the kind of guy he is. Like other baby boomers with dysplasia, William had been told there was nothing that could be done,” Dr. Brown continues. “But today’s advances in joint replacement made surgery a reasonable option for him.”

Life-Restoring Surgery

Lake and Dr. Brown discussed having three surgeries — right hip, left knee, and left hip — to replace Lake’s defective joints with manmade components. Because of the one-of-a-kind deformities of Lake’s joints, these would be extremely complicated procedures.

Dr. Brown performed the intricate surgeries at Miami Valley Hospital South in Centerville. “With a person with dysplasia, there are not the usual landmarks that a surgeon uses to determine what goes where, so surgery is far from routine,” he says. “For instance, in Lake’s left knee, the kneecap was completely dislocated from the femur. There were huge spurs off the back of the knee and incredible calcium deposits. During surgery, I was continually adjusting components and deciding how to proceed as I went along.”

In order to have sufficient recovery time, Lake’s surgeries were over a two-year period, with the final of the three done in February 2015. “William is remarkable. Every time we finished a surgery, he would ask, ‘When can I have the next one?’” Dr. Brown shares. “He is so motivated.”

Lake says his expectations for surgery were modest. “I went into this thinking that anything that could be done for me would be a help,” he says. “I had no idea so much improvement could be made.”

On the Road Again

New hips and knees made a significant difference in Lake’s life, including evening out his height so one side isn’t taller than the other. “The right side is like it never had a care in the world,” he says. “I’m getting around better than ever. I never thought this could happen. Best of all, I don’t have to worry about my knee dislocating. It’s real peace of mind.”

Dr. Brown gets a look of admiration in his eyes when he talks about Lake and what a terrific patient he’s been. He praises Lake’s fantastic attitude – but Lake credits Dr. Brown’s extraordinary surgery skills for the big change in his life. The admiration is mutual.

Both have high praise for Premier Health, for making sure a surgeon like Dr. Brown has the equipment and surgical teams to make such turnarounds possible for people who suffer with debilitating conditions, such as dysplasia.

“I never thought things could get better,” Lake says. “Can you believe it? I’m ready to get back to motorcycling.” And with that, he talks about trips of long ago, biking down the East Coast, stopping to enjoy the scenery and some parties. Happily, that’s not out of reach anymore.


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