All-in-the-Family Joint Replacements

After three decades of suffering, daughter gets a new hip from the doctor who also gave mom a new knee

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) success Lauri Sloper, 57 of Martinez, California, was extremely active growing up. Her early years included bike riding, kickball, softball, and other team sports played on her neighborhood streets.

“I loved PE in junior high and high school until senior year of high school,” said Sloper. “When my left knee cap moved around several times and finally stayed off one day until I pushed it back.”

Sloper was 17 when she had her first major surgery to reconstruct her knee. It was during this time that she learned she has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a group of inherited disorders that affect the body’s connective tissues.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can cause joints to become excessively flexible and skin to become stretched and fragile. A more severe form of the disease can cause ruptures in the walls of the uterus, blood vessels intestines or uterus.

Living with pain daily

Because EDS is a genetic disease, Sloper has contended with a different pain almost every day since birth.

Despite the pain and discomfort, Sloper continued to play women’s softball every year following knee surgery. But after 30 years of playing through the pain, she was unable to cope any longer.

The condition of her left hip continued to worsen. Finally, at age 46, she knew that she needed to seek help and turned to Dr. Louay Toma at Muir Orthopaedic Specialists. Coincidentally, Dr. Toma had performed a knee replacement for her mother five years earlier in response to the same genetic condition.

“He was especially fantastic helping my mother, especially the last years of her life when she needed a compassionate, patient doctor.” Said Sloper. “I will always respect him for how he helped her those last days.”

Ironically, Sloper had always seen doctors older than her, so she was skeptical of Dr. Toma’s skill and expertise. He quickly dispelled her doubts.

“He turned out to be the most caring, understanding, down-to-earth doctor I have ever been lucky enough to have helping me. He explains everything clearly and simply, so you can understand,” Sloper says.

Sloper also appreciated what she describes as Dr. Toma’s “playful yet professional bedside manner.”

“He answered every question, and I always threw a lot out to him! He uses both common sense and a wonderful sense of humor,” said Sloper. “Dr. Toma understands that patients know their bodies better than anyone else, and he listens accordingly.”

Twelve weeks to return to normal

On the day of her hip replacement, Sloper was apprehensive. After arriving at 5 a.m. for the operation, “Dr. Toma came into the outer waiting room right before surgery to calm me down and make me smile,” she says. “Once I talked to him I knew everything would be alright.”

After the operation, Sloper initially slept poorly on her recliner due to a foam triangle placed between her legs to avoid their crossing. However, this was her only complaint.

Otherwise, Sloper says, her scar was “so small that there was barely any pain or bruising.” Most importantly, “the hip pain and discomfort I lived with for the past 30 years vanished.”

Sloper was back to work after one month and followed Dr. Toma’s instructions to walk every day for exercise and healing.

“By 12 weeks I felt completely back to normal; I was patient and knew that I was going to feel so much better after thirty years of pain,” said Sloper. “My ability to move and be active has improved drastically.”