Letter: How a double knee replacement changed my life

Letter: How a double knee replacement changed my life

अगस्त 08, 2022

I am a long-time Burnaby resident and I recently retired from 30 years of service with the Burnaby Fire Department, where I served as the President of the Burnaby Fire Fighters Charitable Society for seven years and Vice President for six years. 

I originally injured my left knee in 2005, when I was assisting paramedics in the transfer of an elderly, 245-pound patient with a broken hip. After I recovered sufficiently, I went back to work on the ladder truck but injured my right knee in 2008 jumping off the truck to attend a fire.

Because my left knee had been repaired, but not replaced, my right knee took up the slack and I wound up with two bad knees. After the second knee injury, I was no longer able to work as a suppression firefighter and continued to work in dispatch. Suppression designated firefighters are those members who can meet the demanding physical requirements of hands-on firefighting and my knee injuries made it impossible for me to meet that standard.

Replacement knees only last about 15 years and can only be replaced twice in a lifetime. Due to this, my doctors advised me to wait for the full knee replacement surgeries, or, due to the physical demands of firefighting, I could wind up in a wheelchair.

My injuries not only impacted my career as a suppression designated firefighter, but they also had a negative impact on my leisure time and I really missed being active.

Dr. Kostamo and his team did a full replacement of my right knee in March 2021 and did the same with my left knee in September 2021. I only spent one night in the hospital with the right knee and two nights in hospital with the left knee. Both knee replacements were carried out during the pandemic where I witnessed the cleanliness in the hospital, and how careful the staff were with infection control procedures and wearing their PPE. I felt like Burnaby Hospital was the cleanest and safest place to be.

I am now working on getting back into the athletic activities I missed so much. The full joint replacement team gave me excellent care, but I want to especially thank Dr. Tim Kostamo. I feel very fortunate to have had had a surgeon as brilliant as him replace both of my knees.

Dr. Kostamo is a knowledgeable and caring orthopedic surgeon with an excellent bedside manner. He is very approachable, shows true compassion for his patients and he took the time to explain every step of the surgery in detail and answer any questions I had, which I really appreciated. Dr. Kostamo’s passion for the changes brought by this redevelopment is inspiring and I am excited to see the many upgrades it will bring to our community hospital.