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Press Releases

Tony Award-Winning Singer/Actress Melba Moore Makes On-Stage Comeback, Resumes Busy Lifestyle After Hip Replacement Surgery Performed by Dr. Westrich

(New York, N.Y. April 5, 2007). According to the official Web site of Tony-award winning actress Melba Moore, "this multifaceted artist/philanthropist is always reaching deeper, pressing harder, ever challenging herself." Her latest projects include a top role in the national touring show "Chicago" and an autobiographical one-woman play with music that critics are hailing as "brilliant," "authentic," "inspiring," and "poignant".

Up until last October, though, Ms. Moore had serious doubts that she could keep up her exciting, but hectic schedule. She suffered from hip pain that had become so severe it kept her up at night and she walked with a serious limp. It turns out she had severe arthritis, but didn't know it until she went to see Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, an orthopedic surgeon, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of Joint Replacement Research at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.

Ms. Moore, who had always led a healthy lifestyle, including plenty of exercise, never imagined she had arthritis. "Although the pain was agonizing, I had no idea. I really didn't know what osteoarthritis was. I tried acupuncture, supplements and exercise, but nothing helped."

After being referred to Dr. Westrich, Ms. Moore learned she had very advanced bone-on-bone arthritis, which not only causes severe pain, but makes many activities of daily living difficult, if not impossible. It was the kind of hip arthritis that only joint replacement would relieve.

She opted for the surgery, and in the operating room, got a surprise. "When I was taken to the operating room, all of sudden I heard music playing in the background, and it really made me feel good." The anesthesiologist had put on a CD of one of Ms. Moore's hit songs, "You Stepped into My Life."

When she woke up from surgery, she immediately noticed "the pain was 20,000 times better." She says, "Now I have my life back."

Mini-incision Brings Maximum Benefit

"I'm glad I didn't need the surgery 10 or 20 years earlier, when techniques were not as advanced," Ms. Moore explains. "I had a relatively fast recovery because I kept myself in good shape prior to the operation."

Dr. Westrich agrees that being in good physical condition before joint replacement facilitated recovery for Ms. Moore. He also attributes faster recovery in hip replacement patients to improvements in the way the surgery is performed. "In the past couple of years, major advances have revolutionized joint replacement," he says. "Techniques such as minimally invasive hip and knee replacement achieve the same goal as the standard operation, but with a three- or four-inch incision, as opposed to 12 or 14 inches."

Aside from the better cosmetic result, the smaller incision generally results in less pain, a quicker recovery, a shorter hospital stay and easier physical therapy, according to Dr. Westrich. The operation entails replacing the painful, arthritic joint with a fully functioning hip or knee implant. Doctors are able to make smaller incisions thanks to special retractors, which are used to hold open the skin and muscle.

Another advance concerns the hip implant itself. Westrich says a newer device made of ceramic materials is expected to last longer than the traditional hip replacement made of metal and plastic. "If an implant can last 20 years or more, total hip replacement becomes a viable option for younger patients suffering from arthritis," Dr. Westrich says.

As for Melba Moore, she says she is delighted she had the surgery and her active, busy life is back to normal. "When people are in pain, they tend to guess about what could be wrong. They really need to get the right care so they don't suffer needlessly," she says. Getting her life back has meant big plans for the future. She is hoping to bring her one-woman play to Broadway this year.

Melba Moore

She began her career in the groundbreaking musical "Hair," where she originated the role of Dionne. During her 18 months in the show, she eventually replaced Diane Keaton, becoming the first black actress to replace a white actress in a lead role on Broadway.

Her credits include "The Melba Moore / Clifton Davis Show," the mini-series "Ellis Island," R & B and POP hits "This Is It," "You Stepped Into My Life," and her Grammy- nominated signature song, "Lean On Me."

Directly on the heels of "Hair," came the role of Lutiebelle Gussiemae Jenkins, the innocent southern domestic who falls in love with a fast-talking preacher in the long- running musical, "Purlie," the role which launched her successful TV and recording career. Her show-stopping performance in "Purlie," won Ms. Moore the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, making her the first black actress to do so.

In 1996 she took over the role of "Fantine" in the Broadway musical "Les Miserables." She was the first Black actress to step into the leading role in that milestone Broadway musical. Ms. Moore is an ardent advocate for the rights of children and started the "Melba Moore Foundation for Abused & Neglected Children."

Dr. Geoffrey Westrich

Dr. Westrich is an attending orthopedic surgeon, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of Joint Replacement Research at the top-rated Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Specializing in hip and knee replacement, arthroscopic hip surgery, challenging cases and revision surgery, he is also recognized as an expert in DVT (deep vein thrombosis-blood clots) prevention following joint replacement. He has published more than one hundred research articles in peer-reviewed medical journals on various topics in orthopedic surgery. He also serves as a reviewer for a number of professional journals, including the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and Biomechanics.

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