After Hip Replacement, 75 Year Old Martin Summits Mount Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro had been at the very top of Martin’s bucket list for 20 years – ever since the film Kilimanjaro was released. This year, at the age of 75 and less than a year after his hip-replacement surgery at Humber River Hospital, Martin accomplished this dream with his sons by his side.
Martin will never forget the terrible bone-on-bone feeling in his left hip before his first hip replacement in 2017.
“Before my operation, the pain in my hip was getting progressively worse,” remembers Martin. “I felt so much better after my hip replacement surgery with Dr. Martin Heller. It was a huge success.”
A few years later Martin and his wife travelled to Kenya, where Martin remembers having a photo taken of himself with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background.
“We were so close to the mountain I had always dreamed of climbing,” says Martin. “I told myself that I was definitely going to do it one day if given the opportunity. That opportunity came three years later.”
By then, Martin’s right hip had started acting up, eventually approaching the same bone-on-bone feeling he had experienced on his left side.
“I had my right hip replaced by Dr. Heller in September 2021 and was released the same day without any problem,” says Martin. “Just like the first time, my recovery was excellent – I have absolutely no complaints.”
The next time he saw Dr. Heller, Martin announced he was going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Great! Send me a picture!” Dr. Heller told him with a grin.
With Dr. Heller’s go-ahead, Martin officially proposed the idea of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to his sons Justin and Peter, who jumped at the opportunity. Martin excitedly began planning every aspect of their trip, including the logistics of their ascent and how they would combat altitude sickness.
“I worked my way up to walking 10,000 to 20,000 steps a day,” says Martin. “I would walk for hours through Toronto parks. Whenever I saw stairs, I would go up and down a few times. And I was going to the gym a few times a week – that was my training. I kept waiting for my hips to start hurting but they were fine.”
Finally, less than a year after his right hip replacement, Martin, his sons, and their support crew climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. At 75 years old, Martin was older than anyone else they encountered on the mountain. Each day, they woke up around 6:00am and climbed until the afternoon. Martin was curious about how the climb would feel on his hips but he never encountered any pain. At night they would look up and see the Milky Way. The sights were incredible and Martin knew they were making memories they would never forget.
“On the sixth and final day of our ascent we started our trek with headlights on,” says Martin. “You have to start in the middle of the night to get to the summit for sunrise. When we passed Stella Point two hours from the peak, I knew we were going to make it. I’ll never forget the feeling of getting to the top at 7:22am. We were so happy.”
Martin and his sons enjoyed the summit for less than twenty minutes – the recommended amount of time you can safely be at that altitude. They celebrated with the other climbers, took in the view, snapped some photos (including one for Dr. Heller!), and started their descent.
“None of this would have been possible before my hip surgeries,” says Martin. “This was one of my greatest accomplishments, and without Dr. Heller it wouldn’t have been possible. In a way it’s his accomplishment too.”