AUSTIN -- An Austin pastor is using the improved mobility in his hip to climb to new heights and help others.
Pastor John Short left Tuesday morning for Africa, but this journey really began in Birmingham, England, where scientists created the technology for hip resurfacing decades ago. However, the materials to make that technology work long-term have only been developed in the last few years.
"In my late 20s, I was nearly bone-on-bone in my left hip," Short said.
The pain got worse as he got older.
"If someone tripped over my foot it just sent me into the stratosphere," said Short. "The pain would just shoot up in my spine."
He had resigned himself to this is all part of getting older. Then he met Dr. Randall Schultz, an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Orthopedics, and learned about Birmingham Hip Resurfacing.
"Resurfacing means we are literally just putting a new surface on top of the ball which has lost its cartilage coating," said Shultz.
Schultz said hip resurfacing allows patients to preserve more of their own bone, unlike a total hip replacement, where the ball is removed from the top of the thigh bone.
"With the resurfacing, we're actually leaving their bone in place and putting a cap on the diseased, arthritic ball," said Shultz. "Therefore, we keep more of their own bone if we have to have surgery later."
It's been nearly five years since Short had the procedure. He said he feels so healthy, he's ready to take it to the next level -- the nearly 20,000-foot level of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As one of the pastors at Gateway Church, he said it's important to take ministry outside the four walls of the church for things like this year's Operation Mobilization: the Freedom Climb. Its goal is to help thwart human trafficking that often leads young women into the sex slave industry.
"It's representative of a woman, a girl or young lady to actually climb out of her situation," said Shultz.
Short has hiked Big Bend and Mt. Wheeler in New Mexico, but not Mt. Kilimanjaro. Thanks to hip resurfacing and a mission to help others he knows he's ready.
"Now I have an active lifestyle," said Short. "I can do this, and because I have a heart to want to help those women across the world get out of their situation."
Doctors say men under the age of 60 are the best candidates for hip resurfacing. By preserving the bone with this procedure, more healthy bone will be available for a total hip replacement later in the life.