Two months ago, Beth put her hip to the ultimate test,
participating in the Dam Sprint Triathlon at Lake Perris. The event
included an 800-yard swim, a 12-mike bike ride and a 5K run
By PETER FISCHETTI
It was 10 years ago. Beth Barney had flown with her husband, Jason,
from Utah for the prognosis, and they sat in the doctor’s office in
Los Angeles. She felt like a defendant on trial, awaiting the
verdict that would decide how she would live the rest of her life.
She did not want to live it as she had the first 22 years. Born with
congenital dysplasia – her hip was out of its socket at birth – Beth
Barney had a series of surgeries, body casts and braces between her
first and second year of life.
But it wasn’t until she was 14 and trying out for the high school
basketball team that she really felt the pain. Her doctor diagnosed
her with arthritis in her left hip, told her it would only get
worse, and advised her to avoid sports and other strenuous
"Unfortunately that wasn’t me," she said.
Beth Barney played sports year-round and took medication, but her
hip continued to deteriorate, though she didn’t realize how badly.She found out "how bad" at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Walking to campus and classes as a physical education major made the
Nuevo resident Beth Barney had a surgery known as surface hip
replacement in 2000 and has since rebuilt her life, recently
competing in a triathlon at Lake Perris.
"I dreaded going shopping or to the mall," the Nuevo resident
recalled. "That meant walking and standing, and at this time I could
only walk about a block before needing to stop and rest."
Her doctor in Provo added to the hopelessness, telling her she had
no cartilage and the best option was a total hip replacement or
fusing her hip together.
"I did not want to end up in a wheelchair when I was 40 – which was
a likely prognosis to him."
Enter Dr. Harlan Amstutz, a Los Angeles physician who Beth Barney’s
mother had heard about.
Beth Barney and her husband met with Dr. Amstutz, who said she was a
perfect candidate for a surgery called surface hip replacement.
"I felt like this was the first day of my new life," Beth Barney
The surgery in September 2000 was, at the time, experimental. It is
considered a less invasive, bone-conserving technique that uses a
metal-on-metal device that Dr. Amstutz developed to treat patients
with hip injury, arthritis, or other hip ailments. The device was
approved by the FDA in November 2009. During the procedure, bone is
conserved by resurfacing the femoral head instead of amputating it,
as in total hip replacement.
Dr. Amstutz, 78, professor emeritus of orthopedic surgery at UCLA,
is founding director of the Joint Replacement Institute, located at
St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Los Angeles. Surface hip replacement
has come a long way since he operated on Beth, he said.
"The success for patients like Beth has increased from 88 to 96
percent since we started that procedure in 1996," said Dr. Amstutz,
who grew up in Riverside.
Beth Barney still remembers the day her life changed.
"When I woke up from surgery, as sick as I was from the anesthesia,
I remember lying there and all of a sudden realizing that my hip did
not hurt," she recalled.
Today, she can play with her four children, go shopping and
"These are things I don’t take for granted any more and I hope I
never will," said Beth Barney, who was a teacher but now is a
Two months ago, Beth put her hip to the ultimate test, participating
in the Dam Sprint Triathlon at Lake Perris. The event included an
800-yard swim, a 12-mike bike ride and a 5K run.
"I actually surprised myself by doing as well as I did," she said.
In second place after the swim, she finished seventh overall and
first among women in her age group, completing the three events in
"It was so exhilarating and rewarding to do something like this
triathlon and to be able to compete again," she said.
The next time Barney competes in a triathlon, she’ll have someone
else cheering her on. The Barneys’ fifth child is due in August.