I became an orthopaedic surgeon because...

of my Great Aunt Loretta. Loretta, or “Ra Ra,” survived breast cancer, raised four kids on her own after the sudden death of her husband, and was always the life of the party. However, when she developed severe hip arthritis, she could no longer do anything. She became depressed and was miserable. This was during my first year of medical school. Seeing her transformation from a vibrant person to a hopeless woman in constant pain made us all feel so helpless. She finally agreed to have a hip replacement. After her recovery, she was back! That year she was named “woman of the year” for her church. Having witnessed this, I realized that this was what I wanted to do for other people. Mark Twain is known for saying “the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Aunt Ra Ra helped me decide to become not only an orthopaedic surgeon, but one who performs hip and knee replacements in addition to treating sports conditions. Aunt Loretta is still going strong at age 91 and still tells a joke better than anyone I know.

What is the most rewarding part of being an orthopaedic surgeon?

When a patient is hopeless and scared because of arthritis or an injury, and I can offer and deliver help, that is my reward. While I enjoy the operating room, there is great satisfaction in helping someone simply by listening to his or her story.

Ortho-pinions by Dr. Claudette Lajam

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