AT the age of 44 Carl Millard already had one artificial hip and faced the prospect of another. Years of steroid use to control a condition called vasculitis that attacks blood vessels throughout the body had killed the bone cells in his joints.
By the time he was referred to orthopaedic surgeons one of his hips had virtually disintegrated and surgery was the only option. Carl’s other hip – while damaged – was still intact.
As the pop-group roadie turned rugby coach prepared to go under the knife for the second time, his surgeon offered him a pioneering treatment. Two years ago Carl became the first patient in the country to have his diseased hip saved by his own stem cells. “I was approached by my surgeon Doug Dunlop to see if I was willing to be a guinea pig for the treatment,” says Carl who is single and lives in Southampton. He said there was no risk and that the worst that could happen would be that it failed and I would need to have another hip replacement.”
A relatively pain-free procedure, it was developed by scientists at Southampton University. Carl is one of just six NHS patients to have had the treatment at the city’s Spire Hospital. Mr Dunlop performed the procedure.