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Cindy’s Story

From Patient to Volunteer: Cindy’s Story

One week before her 70th birthday, Cindy underwent surgery to replace her right knee. She had been battling mounting chronic knee pain since a skiing injury when she was 16, and while Cindy knew for a long time that she would need knee replacements, it was when she could no longer perform her duties as a volunteer firefighter that reaffirmed it was time for surgery.

Cindy had her knee replacement done by Dr. Sanaz Hariri, an orthopedic surgeon at El Camino Health’s Los Gatos hospital. Cindy had been seeing another surgeon at the hospital, who retired and brought in Dr. Hariri as his replacement.

Post-surgery, Cindy stayed in a private room with its own restroom in the orthopedic unit, and she recalls the doctor and nurses being very responsive to her needs.

“The nurses and physical therapists were wonderful,” Cindy shared. “They took really good care of me, and I didn’t feel like just another number.”

She had her procedure on a Wednesday, went home Friday, and started in-home physical therapy the following Monday. The physical therapist was sent to Cindy’s home by Dr. Hariri and worked with Cindy for six weeks.

A couple years later, Dr. Hariri performed surgery to successfully replace Cindy’s left knee.

“Dr. Hariri is #1 in my book,” Cindy said. “I’ve recommended her to at least a dozen people for knee surgery. She’s personable, professional and caring. She’s an asset to the hospital.”

Shortly after Cindy recovered from her second knee replacement, she was eager to return to volunteering. So, she joined the hospital’s Auxiliary and began volunteering in the outpatient surgery department at the Los Gatos campus. She helps change beds, keep supplies stocked and comforts patients and their families before surgery. She knows all too well what it’s like to be a patient going into surgery and tries to help take their minds off being nervous.

“Any time I can escort a patient out of the hospital after surgery, I’m reminded that El Camino is a great hospital,” Cindy said. “It’s clean, well-run and top notch.”

Cindy is thankful she doesn’t have to worry about knee pain, even while traveling. She recently went on a month-long vacation cruising to beautiful destinations including Hawaii, Bora Bora, Tahiti and Australia.

“I have full range of motion, both knees are straight, and I have no limping,” Cindy shared. “I don’t even realize I have knees anymore, because the chronic pain no longer reminds me of them.”