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Eight weeks ago, Dr. Morteza Meftah, an orthopedic surgeon at New York University’s Orthopedic Hospital, implanted my new hip. My body is still getting used to the repair. The new hip replaced an earlier “new” hip that was inserted by Dr. Chitran Ranawat 38 years ago. My first replacement took place when this marvelous operation was in its infancy. Then, as science editor of the Arthritis Foundation, I had eagerly followed its development by Britain’s John Charnley, MD. I may actually have been the first journalist to write about it for the general public.

John Charnley started out as a general physician. He volunteered for the Royal Medical Corps on May 1, 1940, just in time to assist in the rescue of British troops from continental Europe at Dunkirk in 1940. After serving in Egypt during the war, he moved to an orthopedic hospital in Britain and eventually specialized in orthopedics. In the 1950s, he obtained funding to establish a biomechanical hip center at Wrightington Hospital in Lancashire. Osteoarthritic patients with deteriorating hip joints became his main concern.

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