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Rockhampton’s first ankle replacement

28 April 2021

Gracemere’s Ken Dawson is walking on sunshine, after becoming the first person in Rockhampton to have an ankle replacement.

Six weeks ago Mr Dawson couldn’t walk without a wheely walker and now, thanks to Rockhampton Hospital Staff Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Ruth Varrall, there’s no stopping him.

The retired farmer said he paid the price of a busy life 20-25 years ago spent jumping on and off trucks.

He was riddled with pain in his right ankle and couldn’t walk unassisted, but he now has a new lease on life and he’s extremely grateful to Dr Varrall.

After a CT scan, the images were sent to the United States where templates for his shiny new ankle were produced using a special 3D printer.

“It’s just incredible,” he said. “I can’t get my head around it!”

Mr Dawson has also previously had a knee replacement (also thanks to Dr Varrall), and a new hip.

“Apart from the fact that I couldn’t walk before and now I’m almost pain free I would never know they were there,” he said. “And except my one aspirin a day I haven’t even had pain killers.”

Dr Varrall is delighted to offer the service at Rockhampton Hospital, using state-of-the-art technology from the USA.

“It’s amazing to take someone who couldn’t put one foot in front of the other and to have him walking into my clinic room is fantastic,” she said.

“The fact that this is the only place in Rockhampton to have this procedure is something the Base should be very proud of.”

Dr Varrall is the only fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon in Rockhampton.

“The criteria to receive an ankle replacement is quite specific,” Dr Varrall said. “We need the right patient, and Ken was the perfect candidate. He’s slim, active and the right age.”

Rockhampton's first ankle replacement

Last updated: 29 April 2021

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