Decades of Pain Ended by Total Ankle Replacement: Tom’s Story

June 22, 2023

Tom was in his twenties, playing baseball and rounding first base, when he hit the bag and sprained his ankle badly. He was frustrated to miss the rest of the season but was eventually able to return to his regular active routine of baseball, football, and hockey.

Decades later, that sprained ankle came back in full force. By his sixties, Tom had remained active but suffered from a debilitating, near-constant sprain.

Total Ankle Replacement X Ray

During Tom’s total ankle replacement surgery, Dr. Desai reconstructed his entire damaged ankle joint using a custom guide.

“My GP recommended I see Dr. Sagar Desai at Humber River Hospital, who I learned was well known for his innovative approach to ankle surgeries,” says Tom.

“Dr. Desai told me I was ready for a total ankle replacement, which I had never heard of before,” he says. “I started doing my research and panicked when I saw everything my surgery would entail. I called him back and told him I couldn’t go through with it.”

During the months that followed, the constant pain and inflammation in Tom’s ankle became unbearable.

“A year later by the fall of 2022, the pain was killing me,” he remembers. “I went back to Dr. Desai and we scheduled my total ankle replacement surgery. I was very nervous – I even tried to back out the night before my surgery but he talked me down.”

When Tom arrived the morning of his surgery, he expected the worst.

“I had been reading about how brutal our healthcare system is in Ontario,” says Tom. “But the whole process was spectacular, really smooth and methodical. I felt like I was at a hotel.”

During Tom’s total ankle replacement surgery, Dr. Desai reconstructed his entire damaged ankle joint with an artificial implant – an approach that would leave Tom pain-free and with his full range of motion.

Total Ankle Replacement Recovery

“My ankle felt great right away,” says Tom, who took this photo the afternoon of his surgery at his cottage.

“With our new Prophecy Infinity ankle replacement, we are able create custom guides specifically for each patient like Tom based on their 3D CT scan,” says Dr. Desai. “This technology allows us to complete the surgery with a smaller incision, shorter operative time, more precision, and less pain.”

Tom woke up from his surgery after an hour and a half at 10:40am and by 1:30pm he was riding in the passenger seat on his way to his cottage.

“My ankle felt great right away but I didn’t want to jinx it,” says Tom. “I waited three, four, five weeks and it kept feeling good. Two months later, I was in Florida riding my bike and playing golf. Now I’m six months out and I never experienced any pain.”

Tom has been reflecting on his ankle a lot lately. For the past few weeks, he has been recovering from surgery on his opposite knee (done at another Toronto hospital) and his ankle has been bearing a lot of weight. In awe and appreciation for everything his ankle has done for him, Tom decided now was the perfect time to make a Gift of Gratitude donation in honour of Dr. Desai.

“Dr. Desai is a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon working on the other end,” says Tom. “His whole team there is fantastic. I even enjoyed seeing everyone at my follow up visits. I am very grateful for the care I have received here.”