A Complicated Surgery

Paul Levine and his wife

When Jay R. Lieberman, MD, chair and professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck School of Medicine, first met Paul Levine as a patient, Mr. Levine had been having hip pain, sixteen years after having the joint replaced by another surgeon. X-rays seemed to indicate that the prosthesis had shifted.

Because of the type of prosthesis that Mr. Levine had in place, Dr. Lieberman had to perform an osteotomy where the femur is basically cut in half to facilitate the removal of the device. A new prosthesis was put in place, and the bone was repaired. At first, Mr. Levine could put only limited weight on the leg; but once the bone had healed after two months, he was able to gradually resume his activities.

That Rare Doctor-Patient Relationship

“We bonded when we first met,” said Mr. Levine. “I’d found Dr. Lieberman online and watched him give a talk.” During the taped presentation, Dr. Lieberman paused to take a call from his mother. “That was the thing that really clinched it for us,” said Mrs. Levine. “It was the compassionate care we were looking for in a doctor.”

Jay R. Lieberman, MD
Jay R. Lieberman, MD

“He’s a tower in his field and a humble and beautiful human being. And he’s funny. I related to that,” said Mr. Levine. “He’s fun, serious, and he’s smart. You don’t meet people like Jay every day in life. I can see that he relates to everyone, all kinds of patients, when I sit in the waiting room.”

Years later, Mrs. Levine also became a patient after sustaining a fall while traveling in Amsterdam and having her hip replaced there. The residents treating Mrs. Levine were in awe that she knew Lieberman; his textbook was the one they used as part of their training.

Now, the couple travels annually from their home in New England to Southern California to see Dr. Lieberman for their checkups. During one visit, the Levines went to Dr. Lieberman’s lab and met the scientists behind the department’s cutting-edge research, such as limb and tissue regeneration.

“I was really impressed with the progress they were making so these operations don’t have to be as difficult,” said Mrs. Levine. “They’re working on regenerating bones and curing osteoarthritis using stem cells. We met with each project leader—it was one of the best days of our lives. We knew then that we wanted to support Dr. Lieberman and his team’s innovative research.”

In Gratitude

The Levines decided to express their interest and gratitude by giving annually and planning to donate a portion of their estate to support Dr. Lieberman’s lab.

“I could not be more humbled by or grateful for that vote of confidence,” said Dr. Lieberman. “It will greatly impact my ability to translate our research to solving unmet clinical needs for patients that suffer from many kinds of musculoskeletal pain.”

Next-Gen Orthopaedic Solutions

Dr. Lieberman plans to transform philanthropic support into innovative treatment solutions for patients, which include gene therapy for bone repair. This involves taking stem cells and genetically manipulating them to release a protein that stimulates the formation of the cells that build bone tissue. He is already working with animal models and predicts positive results will lead to Phase I clinical trials with humans within five years.

The future of this work could have significant implications for many throughout the community and even across the country. That means veterans with military wounds, people injured in high-speed car accidents, or people who have total joint replacements that have failed could have the option of having their bones repaired and regrown. While it may seem like science fiction, it’s well within the realm of possibility at Dr. Lieberman’s lab.

Gift Planning

To learn more about planned giving or gifting your estate to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC, please contact:

Daisy Bank
Senior Director of Development
Keck Medicine of USC
University of Southern California
1149 S. Hill Street Suite 360
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Cell: (213) 588-6239


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