Joined at the hip: West Bloomfield husband and wife have hips replaced on same day

10/9/2015

Marv and Rhoda Perlin fell in love as teenagers, graduated from Wayne State University together, got married, became teachers and raised three sons. After 61-years of marriage, they still do everything together, including getting their hips replaced.

Marv and Rhoda Perlin share a hospital room at Beaumont Hospital - Royal Oak after their hip surgeries.
Marv and Rhoda Perlin share a room at
Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak after their hip surgeries.

Marv, 82, and Rhoda, 81, were both living with hip pain. She needed her right hip replaced. His left hip was worn out.

So, the Perlins visited Beaumont orthopedic surgeon James Verner, M.D., to talk about their options. Dr. Verner confirmed the couple needed surgery and asked if they’d like to have their surgeries on the same day.

“Neither one of us was capable of taking care of the other because of our hip issues. We were too weak. We looked at each other and decided to go for it,” Rhoda says.

Dr. Verner assured the couple they didn’t need to live with hip pain anymore.  “Many people in their early 80s live with aches and pains that won’t go away. But, the Perlins were both in great shape for their ages and I knew surgery could help them,” Dr. Verner says.

On the day of their surgery, the West Bloomfield couple arrived at Beaumont Hospital—Royal Oak and went through the registration and pre-operation process together.

“Everyone kept saying, ‘A husband and wife … the same day?’ They were all laughing and questioning. It made it easier to get through the morning,” Rhoda says.

Dr. Verner performed Marv’s surgery using the anterior approach on Beaumont’s HANA operating table. Surgeons who perform the anterior procedure can use the specially designed table to position patients in a way that no muscles are cut. Less cutting of muscles typically results in a faster recovery.

"This state-of-the-art table allows the option of cradling the top of the thigh bone, the femur bone, and lifting it sufficiently enough to introduce new implants with less risk of fracturing the bone," explains Dr. Verner. "If you go between muscles instead of cutting them, those side and back tissues remain undisturbed. Then, the patient can have immediate stability after surgery."

Rhoda will have a slightly longer recovery. She was not eligible for the anterior approach and required a traditional posterior approach surgery, which involves cutting and repairing muscles to reach the hip.

Despite the different techniques, both surgeries went well and, of course, they asked to share the same room in the hospital. Rhoda and Marv wanted to encourage each other throughout the recovery process.

“There was a certain amount of comfort being there with a loved one, knowing they’re OK and you’re OK,” Marv says. “They told us we were the second couple to ever be in the same room like that in Beaumont’s history.”

Rhoda adds, “Marv had to encourage me more because he was getting up and around more. I was not able to do that as quickly.”

A few days later, they went to a rehabilitation center together and have now returned home.

“Couples can support each other through every step of the process. Plus, they can truly understand what their partner is going through and help keep each other on track during physical therapy,” Dr. Verner says.

Marv agrees, “Having surgery together on the same day was the right choice for us. If we could do it again, we would.”  

Download images of Marv and Rhoda Perlin.