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90-year-old total hip replacement patient’s goal: To be back on his Harley

Elward Altvater, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on July 28, bought his first motorcycle in 1947 and has been enjoying short jaunts and long road trips on one of the many Harley Davidsons he has owned ever since.

That is, up until about six months ago when the retired Hutchinson, Kansas, building contractor’s  son and frequent traveling companion, Kim Altvater, had surgery. 

The other factor that has kept the two Screaming Eagle bikes sitting idle in Elward’s garage was the pain he’d been experiencing every time he would swing his leg over the seat.

So he made an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brad Dart, who had used the anterior approach to perform Kim’s total hip replacement four years ago. 

“Once Dr. Dart looked at the images, he asked me, “Which one hurts?” says Elward, explaining that years of kickstarting his motorcycle appeared to have worn the tread off both his hips.

On July 8, he underwent a total right hip replacement on at the Joint Replacement Center at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, a procedure that he says “Dr. Dart was real pleased with.”

Elward was up walking a few hours after his surgery and will be heading to rehab after only a few days in the hospital. In the meantime, he is enjoying the company of family and his care team, who he says have been friendly and kind in their interactions and timely with his medications and care.

“Everyone has been really nice,” says Elward. And personable, adds Mary Ann Altvater, noting that when Nikole Streit, RN,  first met her gregarious father-in-law she grinned and said, “Oh, we are going to have some fun!”

As for getting back on his bike and hitting the road, that may have to wait until next spring, Elward says. “But I was going like the dickens up until a few months ago – and you bet I’ll be doing it again as soon as I can.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.