Mary’s Story: 99 and Still Dancing
April 6, 2023
Did you know the femur (thighbone) is the longest, heaviest and strongest bone in the body? A broken femur is a serious medical trauma that requires surgery and takes months to heal. Recovery can be challenging for even the fittest athlete. So imagine the challenge for 99-year-old Mary Petrillo.
Mary had just celebrated turning 99 by partying and dancing with her family. But a fall in her home the next day resulted in a trip to her nearby emergency department. There she learned she’d shattered her thighbone just above her knee. Mary and her family were presented with two treatment options: an immobilizer cast for three months—hoping Mary would heal—or surgery with 50-50 odds she would make it. Mary’s family was not accepting either option.
They called Daphne Conde, MS, RNFA, ACNP-BC, ONP-C, a member of the Garnet Health Doctors Orthopedic Trauma team. Daphne shared Mary’s X-rays with Jose Toro, MD, orthopedic trauma surgeon and medical director of Orthopedic Trauma Services. Dr. Toro knew right away Mary’s case was challenging, not just because of her age, but because she’d also had a total hip and knee replacement on the same leg. But he also knew he could get Mary back on her feet, and dancing, again.
Garnet Health is one of the few locations with surgeons highly experienced in the procedure of replacing a broken bone with a donor bone—and having patients mobile within 24 hours of surgery. Despite her age and previous surgeries, Dr. Toro was confident that Mary would have a positive outcome.
Mary did decide to transfer to Garnet Health and undergo the surgery. As promised, she was on her feet the very next day. Her daughter-in-law, Iris, was amazed at the results.
“In 12 hours, she was standing by the side of the bed. She went through rehab for two weeks and came home in less than two months! And we are so grateful to Daphne, Dr. Toro, the whole team at Garnet Health Rehab and everyone at Garnet Health. We want this to go out to families to know that no matter what age, there’s still hope.”
Mary is also very thankful to be mobile again.
“I would like to thank Dr. Toro, the nurses, and all the wonderful people involved in helping me and ensuring I’d walk again. And when I can, Dr. Toro is the first person I plan to dance with!"
Garnet Health Medical Center is a verified Level II Trauma Center. For more about Garnet Health’s orthopedic services, visit garnethealth.org/ortho.