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Patient Stories

Six Tries at Other Hospitals, One Try at HSS

Many of HSS’s most grateful patients are those who come here after other physicians are unable to diagnose or treat them. One such patient is John Amici of Highlands, NJ.

In 1995, Mr. Amici had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee at a different hospital, in an attempt to alleviate the pain that he had been experiencing. “After the healing period, the knee felt worse, not better,” he says. He eventually began wearing a brace on his knee and, on the recommendation of another physician, underwent partial knee replacement surgery.

A few months later, Mr. Amici says that he heard a loud “pop,” and was in so much constant pain that he returned to see the doctor five more times. The doctor told Mr. Amici that the discomfort was simply part of the healing process.

“I just could not stand the pain and it was hard for me to do my job,” says Mr. Amici, who is a New Jersey police officer.

Dissatisfied with the doctor’s advice, Mr. Amici took a friend’s advice and came to HSS to see assistant attending orthopedic surgeon Alejandro Gonzalez Della Valle, MD. Dr. Della Valle suspected that a torn posterior ligament was causing the pain and the “popping” in Mr. Amici’s knee, and used an MRI to confirm his diagnosis. The next month, Dr. Della Valle performed a total knee replacement. This time, Mr. Amici recovered without any problems.

“I was out of bed the day after surgery and was walking with a cane the day after that,” he says. “I no longer have any pain and my knee is as good as new.” Mr. Amici felt confident in Dr. Della Valle’s expertise because of the volume of knee replacements that he performs. He adds that Dr. Della Valle and other members of the Hospital staff were all very efficient and kind.

Mr. Amici was so impressed with Dr. Della Valle that he brought his 88-year-old mother, Cecelia, to see him. Mrs. Amici was having severe hip pain that confined her to a wheelchair. The physician that she had initially seen said that she was too old for surgery. “Dr. Della Valle said her hip was destroyed and needed to be replaced,” recalls Mr. Amici. “She was examined at HSS and given clearance for the surgery – she may be 88 years old, but she is a healthy woman.”

The hip replacement surgery changed Mrs. Amici’s life, allowing her to be self-sufficient once again. She now walks with a cane and is able to ride the bus to the senior center to visit with friends.

Both Mr. Amici and his mother have supported HSS to express their appreciation for the extraordinary care they received here – care that they couldn’t find anywhere else.

“I had been to six doctors and none of them came up with the right diagnosis for my problem,” says Mr. Amici. “HSS has the best and most experienced doctors.”

Photo of John Amici