I am a semi-retired professional trombonist, college professor of music at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse University Setnor School of Music (retired), President of the Local 78 American Federation of Musicians, Volunteer Fire Police Captain in the Fayetteville N.Y. Fire Department (among other activities), former Principal Trombonist with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, and a U.S. Army veteran, having proudly served in the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, N.Y. from 1963 to 1966.
Thanks to the expertise of Dr. Elizabeth Gausden and her team at the Complex Joint Reconstruction Center (CJRC) at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), I am walking normally and driving again. I feel healthy and strong now, having just turned 80. It is so awesome to have my life back, as well as be able to work on my putting and even look ahead to playing golf again in the spring with my new knee!
I came to the CJRC at HSS with a severely infected knee, my third replacement, that had loosened to the point of exiting into my femur and tibia just three years after the procedure. I was in excruciating pain, had been unable to drive or walk normally for three months, and on top of it all, had unknowingly been living with a blood clot in my leg. My daughter called the CJRC at HSS to inquire about having my case reviewed by their team consisting of orthopedic surgeons, infectious disease specialists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, and hospitalists, with the hope of finding a road map for my care.
From the first call to the CJRC, we knew HSS could help me. It became evident, after exhausting my options locally, that HSS was my best option to save my leg and my life, with no time to waste. Fortunately, I was matched with Dr. Elizabeth Gausden, a fellowship-trained expert in both knee replacements and trauma surgery, her practice manager, Samantha Taylor, and Dr. Andy Miller, infectious disease specialist. Ash Wissa, clinical coordinator at HSS, expertly and kindly walked us through the details that we needed to obtain and share in order to proceed with the complex procedures that awaited me. Dr. Gausden was so thorough in weighing all the options in order to provide the best outcome for me that NOT ONCE was I worried about my treatment. Everyone promptly took care of our questions every step of the way, alleviating any apprehensions I may have had, all with enduring positivity and warmth.
Vascular surgery was needed to insert a filter to prevent my blood clot from migrating before my two knee surgeries could be performed. I needed a two-stage knee replacement, starting with a spacer and antibiotics, meticulous removal of my old device, diseased tissue, as well as intricate wound closure due to how the infection had damaged my skin. Dr. Gausden even performed corrective surgery to remove a bend in my femur from an injury due to a car crash when I was 28. The second stage, scheduled after the highest certainty that my knee had been cleared of infection, was a “mega-prosthesis”, my fourth knee replacement and essentially my last-resort total knee.
It is an understatement that my treatment had to be carefully “orchestrated”. The CJRC/HSS team always kept a watchful eye on me during the five months of my treatment. Every medical professional provided me with expert care, exhibiting compassion and respect, while always making me always feeling cared about personally.
I and my family would like to express our profound, heartfelt gratitude for everyone at the CJRC at HSS who cared for me, especially my superstar surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Gausden, Dr. Andy Miller, and the rest of my team, as well as Dr. Leslie Cohen, plastic surgeon, and Dr. William Browne, vascular surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, and to all those who have stewarded these cutting-edge academic hospitals.
William H. Harris
Professor of Music, Onondaga Community College
Professor Emeritus (Low Brass: Trombone, Euphonium & Tuba)
Wind and Jazz Ensembles
Syracuse Symphony Orchestra
Principal Trombone (retired)
Syracuse University, Setnor School of Music
Adjunct Professor of Trombone (retired)
President, Local 78, American Federation of Musicians
U.S. Military Academy Band, West Point, NY, 1963-1966