It all started some 50 years ago with a skiing accident. George Smith was just 14 when he crashed on the slopes, leading to his first knee surgery. He spent five days in the hospital and four months in a cast. But things did not improve after the cast came off.
“I had knee surgeries when I was 19, 20, and 21. All on my right knee,” George explained. “After I turned 40, I had six more operations on the same knee and two on the left knee. In between, I tore the meniscus and ACL. At age 50, my goal was to make it to 60 without a single operation, and I made it – to 62.”
That’s when George’s wife had her knee replaced by one of the surgeons at Peak Orthopaedics, Dr. Spencer Amundsen. When Dr. Amundsen met with George in the recovery room after his wife’s successful surgery, he asked why the 62-year-old was hobbling.
“I gave him the short version of my story, and he got me into his office the very next day,” George said. “You know how a lot of doctors seem like they are trying to rush you in and out, to get to the next patient? Dr. Amundsen spent 45 minutes with me, answering all of my questions! He’s really personable and kind — like he’s just another guy, not a doctor.”
George would need to have both of his knees replaced, beginning with the left. Both surgeries were completed at the Lone Peak Surgical Center, on the Draper campus of Lone Peak Hospital. He raved about the treatment.
“Lone Peak Hospital is an amazing place. They never treated me like just a number, or just another patient. Everyone was compassionate, gentle, and kind,” he said. “Honestly, I felt like the name of the hospital should have been ‘The George Smith Hospital,’ because everyone was so attentive that I felt like I was the only one there, like it was my hospital. You just don’t get that anywhere else.”
A year after his left knee replacement, it was time to get the right knee done as well.
“Dr. Amundsen told me that it was one of the worst knees he’d ever seen, even bone fragments floating around in the joint. He didn’t know how I had been able to walk at all.”
In both cases, physical therapists got George’s knee moving right away after surgery and he was able to walk on his own the same day. Home physical therapy followed to help George continue to strengthen the knee.
“Now, after 50 years of pain,” said George, his voice cracking slightly, “no more pain! I can walk up and down stairs, and I walk three to four miles every day. I can hike and bike and do all the things I ever wanted to do. I really have a new lease on life.”