April 10, 2023

Stewart Halperin is a world-traveling photographer. He lost track of the number of countries he's visited when the count reached 95. Along with a passport, a healthy body is key for his on-the-go lifestyle. At 76, Stewart is showing no sign of slowing that his hip is in great shape. 

Wear and Tear 

When he was younger, Stewart participated in sports like pole vaulting. Of course, the experience of a competitive athlete causes wear and tear to the body, especially the joints. During his successful career as a professional photographer, he captured amazing photos while hiking mountains and trekking through jungles. His ability to do that was intrinsically connected to his physical well-being.

However, Stewart started experiencing groin pain that he brushed off as a side effect of his highly active life. As the pain worsened, he talked with a few friends about it and one of them suggested he get his hip checked out - a correlation Stewart hadn't considered. Groin pain is one of the most common complaints in patients with hip issues. Depending on the age of the patient, this can be caused by labrum tears (often in younger, active patients) or advanced osteoarthritis (often in more mature patients). Patients will notice the discomfort in their groin when sitting and when trying to put on socks and shoes.

Stewart had about five months of conservative treatment, including physical therapy and injections with Nathan Olafsen, MD, for his deteriorating hip. When those interventions no longer provided relief, it was time for a surgery consult. 

An Overdue Meeting

Stewart saw hip expert, Cecilla Pascual-Garrido, MD, PhD, at Washington University Orthopedics. Dr. Pascual-Garrido explained a total hip replacement was the best course of action for Stewart. "Stewart had advanced hip osteoarthritis (OA) and non-operative treatments had failed to manage the pain. The pain he was having was limiting activities of daily living and enjoyment like walking, traveling, and hiking. Total hip replacement is the treatment of choice for patients with advanced hip osteoarthritis. The implant is made of titanium and has a modular ceramic head. The implant allows patients to have good range of motion and get back to an active life without pain. New technology has allowed us to treat patients minimally invasively and more precisely. Today, most of our patients go home the same day they have hip surgery. We are working with navigation and robotic systems that allow us to plan and execute the surgery more precisely. In addition, the materials of the implants have evolved tremendously, allowing the implants to last much longer (20+ years)," Dr. Pascual-Garrido explains. 

After meeting, Dr. Pascual-Garrido remembered his name. She had seen Stewart Halperin's name before it appeared on her patient list. It dawned on her, his name was written on a post-it note on a bag a coffee a friend in Africa had sent her home with years ago. Knowing that Dr. Pascual-Garrido was returning to St. Louis, the mutual connection sent her home with a bag of coffee for Stewart, although they didn't know each other at the time. Having not been able to track Stewart down all those years ago, Dr. Pascual-Garrido set the coffee aside, until he showed up in her clinic room in need of a hip replacement. 

A Jane Goodall Connection

The patient and doctor shared more connections than both enjoying a delicious cup of African coffee. Stewart had spent two and a half years working with Dr. Jane Goodall in Tanzania, photographing her world-renowned work. Since then, Stewart and Jane have remained dear friends, celebrating each others life milestones together like Jane's 89th birthday. Dr. Pascual-Garrido's twin sister has been working with Jane Goodall for the past 10 years and on trips to visit her sister, Dr. Pascual-Garrido and Stewart have unknowingly spent time in the same places and connected with the same people, like Dr. Jane Goodall. Stewart joked that he and Dr. Pascual-Garrido have tossed around the idea of traveling together to see their loved ones. 

Stewart offered Dr. Pascual-Garrido and Anna Miller, MD, trauma specialist, a private showing of the recent Jane Goodall exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. "Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall," was embellished with insights and stories from her photographer and friend, Stewart. These unique connections make the whole wide world seem a little smaller, and each of us more connected. 

Around the World

No matter where we're from, or where life has taken us, hip issues and the need for hip replacements are universal experiences. Stewart admits he's a little difficult to please, but that his entire hip replacement process with WashU Ortho and Dr. Pascual-Garrido was the best care he could have received. He compliments the before-surgery education offered by Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital as well as the whole care team. Within a few days of being home, Stewart was walking up stairs and planning his next trip. Just a month after his total hip replacement, Stewart was jet-setting once again.

Learn why patient's choose Washington University Orthopedicsrequest an appointment online or call (314) 514-3500.

Request an Appointment

caret-up caret-down