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WAVE 3 News reporter undergoes hip replacement wide awake after hit-and-run crash

Ken Baker opened the doors to the operating room as he and his surgeon chatted and enjoyed country music during his 45-minute hip replacement
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 1:47 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - At 32 years old, I found myself needing a hip replacement following a hit and run crash before work one morning, which led to the discovery of undiagnosed medical condition. It landed me in the care of Dr. Jonathan Yerasimidies of Louisville Hip and Knee Institute and his team at Landmark Surgical Suites, an outpatient facility.

Hammers and power tools are all things you would expect to see at a car shop, but they were also totally necessary to repair my hip. I smelled odd things, heard loud banging and at times was shaken about as I had my hip repaired, but I found comfort in my surgeon Dr. Jonathan Yerasimidies of Louisville Hip and Knee Institute.

Just like I, he’s a lover of country music. In fact, for those who choose to be put to sleep, I can tell you they’re missing a pretty good concert. In between songs, he would often show me some of my replacement parts and explain next steps.

The reason I was so aware of everything going on is because I decided to do it all with no sedation. The entire thing was done with just a regional block, which was injected into my spine.

“I’m getting ready to give him a hug — a momma hug,” my mom, Eileen Baker, said. “Let him know everything is going to be all right. Even though he’s all psyched up ready to go. You know, there is a little nervousness in him.”

You really can’t hide anything from your mom. Not only was I nervous because of the major surgery I was about to undergo, but I also wondered if I made the best decision for myself by deciding to remain awake for the operation. I wanted to hear and be a part of my surgery and ask questions if I needed to.

A foreign object was going into my body for the betterment of my body, and I wanted to be awake to experience that.

To be clear, I believe in anesthesia and its efficacy and safety, but in the weeks leading up to the surgery, I was more concerned about being put to sleep than about the hip replacement itself. However, after some research, I found that it is becoming more common for people to be alert for medical procedures.

I agree to proceed without sedation after one last check with Dr. Y.

In 2006, Dr. Y was the first surgeon to perform an anterior hip replacement in Louisville. Now he has grown to be one of the foremost authorities on the operation. According to the Louisville Hip and Knee Institute, Dr. Y performs more anterior hip replacements yearly than any other surgeon in the United States.

“With an anterior approach, you can expect your leg lengths are going to be spot on,” he told me. “You can expect to not worry about bending over or crossing your legs and popping it out of socket.”

I felt no pain during the clipping, hammering and pulling, and although this sounds strange, I enjoyed being awake during this process.

“I’ve had folks awake before, but I’ve never had a conversation with somebody during a total hip (replacement),” Dr. Y said. “I’ve done a lot of total hips. This was a new experience for me, and it worked out great.”

When it was all said and done, I believe it was a shared love of country music that made the experience bearable. Better yet, the entire surgery took only 45 minutes.

“Everything went smooth as it can be,” Dr. Y said. “No issues, no troubles, went just as I hoped it would go with an awake patient.”

In portions of this story where interviews were conducted without masks, there were no other patients inside of the surgical suite.

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