At 103, brand-new hip is just the ticket

Mount Prospect man could be oldest in world to get surgery

  • 103-year-old Harold Weary says he's looking forward to resuming his daily walks, without pain.

      103-year-old Harold Weary says he's looking forward to resuming his daily walks, without pain. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Harold Weary with daughter Marlys Weary, at Northwest Community Hospital.

      Harold Weary with daughter Marlys Weary, at Northwest Community Hospital. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Harold Weary

    Harold Weary

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 10/14/2011 11:58 AM

Harold Weary likes to walk.

And thanks to the hip replacement surgery he had Monday at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, he expects to be making his daily half-mile treks again soon.


Officials at Northwest Community believe Weary, a 103-year-old Mount Prospect resident, may be the oldest person on record to undergo a total hip replacement. According to Guinness World Records, the current record-holder is a 101-year old woman from the U.K. who had surgery in 2007.

On Thursday, Weary finished the first of his twice daily physical therapy sessions, and then he and his daughter, Marlys Weary, met with a reporter and photographer.

The centenarian said he is happy at the thought of walking again, without pain.

"I'm looking forward to taking more trips to the library," Weary said. "I've always been a walker, and up until a few months ago, I used to walk a half-mile to three-quarters of a mile every day."

But his deteriorating right hip made walking harder and harder. Weary's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Phillip Ludkowski, agreed and thought Weary, with his overall good health, made a good candidate for surgery.

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"It wasn't a decision taken lightly," Ludkowski said Thursday. "He was evaluated by his primary care doctor and specialist, and it was concluded by the team of doctors that he could come through the surgery just fine."

Ludkowski said the average age for a hip replacement is 68, but Weary's advanced age didn't rule him out. If Weary had sustained a broken hip from a fall, Ludkowski said, he wouldn't have hesitated to perform the operation.

"Older patients can be healthier than younger ones," Ludkowski said.

Ludkowski said if older patients are in generally good health and do not suffer from health issues that many younger patients have -- such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiac disease -- they can face fewer risks going into surgery.

"Harold," the surgeon added, "was not a high-risk patient."

Weary expects to be sprung from the hospital today and will go to Lutheran Home & Services in Arlington Heights to continue his rehabilitation.


He is a longtime Mount Prospect Public Library volunteer and foundation member who was honored by the library's Founder's Award in June. By that time he had logged more than 42 years and 10,000 hours of volunteer time.

Weary celebrated his 103rd birthday earlier this month with his extended family at Le Peep restaurant in Mount Prospect. Included were his three children and their spouses, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

"The entire family supported his decision to have the surgery," Marlys Weary said. "They all know Grandpa and what he is capable of doing, and they said, 'Go for it.'"

Weary said he looks forward to returning to the library, where he likes to research genealogy and help others with their searches. The library has dedicated part of the second floor to him, calling it the Harold Weary Genealogy Room.

Such activities that use the brain, he said, help keep him sharp, along with walking to the library and around town.

"Being active, both physically and mentally," Weary said, "keeps you alert."

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