Mila Tamir fell several years ago and shattered one elbow, and recently fell again, shattering her other elbow. Each time, doctors at Rambam Health Care Campus replaced her elbow joints with artificial ones.
In 2015, Mila Tamir fell on the stone path leading to her house, shattering her elbow. Doctors at a small hospital in the north referred her to Rambam – a tertiary care center – for treatment. In an interview with Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Tamir explained, “I was told at the first hospital that this was not a standard surgical procedure, that it required a level of expertise that they did not have. I was sent to Rambam and there, after taking x-rays again, I was told there was no choice other than elbow joint replacement because my own elbow joint was crushed and traumatized."
Tamir’s surgery was successful. She was sent to physical therapy, rehabilitated and returned to her life. Last January, however, Tamir slipped on a wet floor and fell again, twisting her arm completely out of place and shattering her other elbow. An ambulance was called, and Tamir was brought back to that same small hospital in the north, which once again referred her to Rambam. When she arrived, she was referred straight to Professor Doron Norman, the Director of the Orthopedic Surgery Section, who also examined her when she shattered her elbow the first time. "He smiled when he saw me and told me that he had already operated on dozens of patients who had to undergo elbow joint replacement, but never in his career had he transplanted two prosthetic elbow joints into the same patient."
Of all the joints in the human body, elbow joint replacement is the rarest, as they do not degenerate with age and are replaced only when crushed in a way that renders them unable to fuse properly. Professor Norman also noted that another reason for the relatively small number of elbow joint replacements is the lack of experience among surgeons. "In order to perform this type of replacement surgery, a learning curve is required, for which only a few of the doctors in Israel have been trained."
Tamir underwent physiotherapy and hydrotherapy for several months following the second replacement. Despite family hardships and tragedies, she continues to keep busy. "From both surgeries I wanted to recover quickly. I want to live and so I do everything that makes me feel good."