Dot and Jack McKeown. Dot needs knee replacement surgery.
Dot and Jack McKeown. Dot needs knee replacement surgery. Alistair Brightman

Toogoom woman running out of time for knee surgery

DOROTHY McKeown has spent most of her life caring for other people.

Up until 15 years ago, the Toogoom woman led an active life, teaching at Wide Bay TAFE and working as a nurse at Hervey Bay Hospital.

But a workplace accident led to a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which left Dorothy in crippling pain.

Her husband Jack has watched his wife bravely struggle against the diagnosis and overcome two ankle replacements and two hip replacements.

The pair were able to afford the surgeries because of their private health cover, but the worst was yet to come.

Dorothy was diagnosed with a brain tumour that meant Jack had to become her full-time carer and they could no longer afford private health insurance.

She has had to undergo radiotherapy to fight the tumour.

Dorothy has suffered seizures as a result of the tumour, which is too deep in her brain to remove.

Her husband describes her as a "brave lady".

Now Dorothy needs a double knee replacement and seeing his wife in pain, with no quality of life, is breaking Jack's heart.

"It's hard. It's really hard on both of us," Jack said.

Neither takes a day with each other for granted.

Dorothy could be waiting years to have the operation through the public health system and the cost of going through the private health system is now prohibitive, as it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

"Trying to wait for the public system - it's a long wait," Jack said.

"I don't think we have time on our side to wait two or three years or more."

"She has cared for other people her whole life," Jack said.

"She has given and given and given, looking after sick people."

Dorothy started working as a nurse's aid during the school holidays when she was 16, later becoming a registered nurse/midwife.

She has morphine to help her battle the pain, but says she tries not to take it because "the more you take, the more you need".

"We've never asked for anything in our lives but the cost is huge," Jack said.

"We're looking at between $25,000 to $28,000 for one knee."



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