Patient Stories

Ross McCarthy

  • Knee Replacement
  • 03/09/2023
Ross McCarthy

‘I could have lost a leg after surgery in Ireland. I ended up with a superbug. So I called Healthcare Abroad….The surgeon in Spain was amazing’

Ross McCarthy is a 39-year-old father of three from Woodlawn in Cork. Almost 20 years ago Ross was critically ill after contracting the superbug MRSA during surgery. Having knee surgery again two decades later was far from straight forward. But our surgeon at the HCB Hospital in Denia Dr Jordy van Rijn ensured he got the knee replacement he needed.

This is Ross’s story:

“I tore my ACL when I 20. I was playing soccer at the time. I had the surgery to fix it and went home. All seemed ok but two weeks later it emerged I had picked up the MRSA bug. “I was in hospital for three months after that. I was in quarantine. The medical teams had to wear protective suits. When Covid happened I knew what patients were going through – and what the nurses and doctors were going through – as I had seen that years earlier. “I was a young man at the time, so I didn’t really know what was going on. Things were so bad I thought I was going to lose the right leg. I lost all the muscle in my leg. I did recover thankfully but I had afull year of physio and rehab afterwards just to build up my leg again.

“Then when I was 25 I snapped the ACL in my left knee and I got MRSA again. Luckily it was caught earlier and I was treated more quickly so it wasn’t as bad as the first time around. But I had been told I had more chance of winning the lottery than I had of getting MRSA again and well, I didn’t win the lotto, but I did get MRSA again. “I never really got back to myself unfortunately. Arthritis set in afterwards and I’ve had it since the ACL injury. I was masking the pain.

From the age of 33 the pain became impossible. I began getting injections and that got me to this year when I picked up the phone to Healthcare Abroad. I had read about the company in the Sunday World and I was struck at how well people with sports injuries were looked after so well in Spain. “To be honest, after my experiences in Ireland I had put off having surgery. I didn’t even know there was an option to go to Spain under an EU law until I read about it. I have three beautiful children and I want to be able to play with them. I’m a pipe fitter too so I need to be able to move and I couldn’t with the pains in my knees. I couldn’t sleep at night with the pain.

“I couldn’t believe how straight forward it was to go to Spain with Healthcare Abroad. Everything was made easy for me. Dr Jordy van Rijn could have sent me home again if he wanted to, rather than deal with the fact I had MRSA in the past. He didn’t. He did everything to ensure that there was no reoccurrence. “Firstly, they removed screws from the old surgery and tested those for MRSA. Only when those results came back negative did Dr Jordy and his team go ahead with the surgery. I mean they really looked after me.

“I didn’t realise I was actually suffering from PTSD; I was stressed out for the surgery in Denia because of my experiences in Ireland all those years ago. All those old memories of being in isolation came flooding back. I now realise I’ve been to hell and back.“I appreciate everything that was done for me by Healthcare Abroad and all the medical team at the HCB Hospital. I had to stay a week or two longer but that was absolutely necessary and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. “The physio afterwards was important too. I got 10 sessions after the surgery and that helps the recovery process so much.

I have no hesitation in recommending Healthcare Abroad and the hospitals they partner with. They have been outstanding.” Surgeon Dr Jordy van Rijn said: “When I first saw the x rays of Ross’s knee, I thought the date of
birth on our file was wrong… it was severe arthritis of his right knee at this young age. “When I heard his story and clinically examined his knee I knew only a knee replacement could get him back on track. “The decision to take the screws out first, take cultures of them, the bone, the knee joint itself and only when negative proceed with the knee replacement I took after speaking with colleagues. We as orthopaedic surgeons all know the dramatic effects of a periprosthetic joint infection so the least we could do is to rule it out beforehand. “Fortunately the cultures came back negative (for MRSA).

“The surgery itself was not a walk in the park either. The tissueswere rigid due to previous surgery and most likely due to the infection from 19 years ago. After surgery there were some bleeding issues but apart from that I noticed the anxiety in Ross having knee surgery again and reliving his previous experiences. “I see him walking now, without the pain he had and I think he can enjoy his family life again and return to work hopefully soon. Ofcourse there will be limitations in what he can do, he knows that. “Also, we have to see where we are 10 to 15 years from now. But I want to just say ‘Good luck Ross! Happy I could help.