Direct Anterior Approach for Total Hip Replacement

Patient Stories

Gary Fortune

  • Hip Replacement
  • 11/08/2023
Gary Fortune

Wexford man Gary Fortune was told that he was “too young” for a hip operation.

This article originally appeared in the Wexford People

The maintenance manager at Wexford General Hospital has spoken of his decision to travel to Spain for a vital hip replacement operation, rather than being left to wait it out at home.
A hip replacement is not a procedure that tends to be commonplace among 33-year-olds, and this was probably part of the reason that Wexford man Gary Fortune was told that he was “too young” for the operation.

He revealed that this was the medical advice he was given even though scans showed his arthritis had “reduced his bones to dust”.

Unwilling to wait and see a further deterioration, further impacting his mobility, he began to do some research online before turning to the agency Healthcare Abroad – a company which sources consultants in 100 hospitals in the EU and offers a complete package with hotels, transfers and paperwork which allows patients to claim back the healthcare costs from the HSE under an EU law.

The European Union Cross Border Health Directive (2014) gives a legal right to all EU citizens to travel for treatment and claim the money back from their own government.

Reflecting on the experience, Gary reveals he flew out to Spain on July 9. He was collected from Alicante airport and taken to a hotel in Denia where he met with other patients who were having procedures.

“It was reassuring to meet other patients,” he said. “The following day I went to my first appointment at the HCB Hospital to discuss the procedure with the surgeon and other hospital staff.”

He was impressed with the facilities.

“The hospital itself was fabulous and the staff there were amazing,” he said. “I went for my operation on July 11 and spent 4 days in the HCB hospital in Denia. The care I received was unbelievable.”

While the days immediately after a heavy operation are rarely considered enjoyable, Gary says he “enjoyed a few recovery days in the hotel” before starting physiotherapy on the Monday.

“I was slightly anxious about the physio but as soon as I met the physiotherapists my mind was at ease straight away,” he said. “It ended up I was actually looking forward to the physio every day. I had 10 physio sessions Monday to Friday during the second week and I could see for myself the amazing progress I was making.”

The Wexford man made quick progress too.

“By the Friday I was down to using one crutch and it felt brilliant,” he recalls. “Eleven days after the operation I didn’t need my crutch for short distance walking and only required one crutch for long distance walking. Most importantly, I felt no pain for the first time in six years.”

From Healthcare Abroad’s perspective, Gary was the ideal type of person to benefit from the services they can offer.

“He arrived in Spain having to use a walking stick,” a spokesperson said. “Now he’s returned to Ireland well on the road to recovery.”

Healthcare Abroad say that they are seeing a growing demand for their service in the South East.

“We have seen a surge of inquiries from patients in Wexford,” a company spokesperson said. “Especially from those on waiting lists, although patients actually don’t have to be on a waiting list to use the EU Cross Border Directive.”