Surgeons at Makindu Sub-County Hospital in Makueni County have replaced the knee of a patient who was suffering from severe arthritis in a delicate trailblazing operation.
Ms Rael Mbula, 69, had been using conventional medicines to manage the ailment that made it difficult for her to walk and work.
But the condition worsened in the past two years, prompting her family to book her last week for total knee replacement surgery.
The three-hour operation involved a team of three doctors and nurses led by Dr James Muoki, an orthopaedic surgeon in charge of the hospital’s trauma centre.
“The patient had suffered deformities of the knee due to severe arthritis and experienced difficulties in walking. The surgery entailed correcting the deformity on the knee and replacing the damaged knee with metallic implants. The patient is recovering very well and is being ambulated so that she learns how to walk,” Dr Muoki told reporters at the hospital Monday.
Using a walking aid, Ms Mbula slowly walked from her hospital bed to bask in the sun outside the ward while being monitored by nurses as part of a physiotherapy regimen doctors have ordered.
The patient complained of slight numbness on the operated leg, something doctors said was normal for patients recovering from the disease characterised by inflammation of one or more body joints.
Arthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage protecting bones and joints, a condition that worsens with old age. It results in sharp pangs of intense pain in the affected joints, difficulties in walking and deformities of the affected tissue in extreme cases like Ms Mbula’s.
The peasant farmer, who could not hide her excitement, said she looked forward to being discharged from the hospital and walking upright once again.
“She had been experiencing intense pain on her knees which made her walking difficult,” said an elated Mr Julius Kivala, Ms Mbula’s last-born and a county anaesthetist.
“She was unable to work for at least two years as a result. We are glad that is set to be history and that she will soon resume her normal lifestyle. This operation cost the family the metallic implant only. The rest of the medical bills are covered by the county insurance scheme.”
This is the first operation of its kind to be undertaken in the county, according to Dr Patrick Musyoki, the Health chief officer. He cited the high cost and its delicate nature as the reasons why it is not widely unviable.
“This accomplishment signals good tidings for patients suffering from severe arthritis and victims of road accidents who may suffer knee damage since the Makindu trauma centre is located along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway,” said Dr Musyoki.