‘It’s been life-changing’: York County surgeon uses robot to assist knee surgeries

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — In May of 2024, Albert Whisonant was able to step up onto his tractor or work in his garden. It was something he loved to do but hadn’t been able to do for months.

“As far as the garden goes, I had to have somebody do just about all of that for me. Plant it. Pick it,” Whisonant said.

Whisonant goes on to explain that his knees had been slowly failing him for the past few years. He said he finally had enough after a family trip to Peru.

He then went to the doctor and was told he needed a double knee replacement.

He said he got both surgeries done, one right after the other, and those usually debilitating surgeries were a breeze thanks to an unlikely surgeon’s assistant.

That assistant was none other than Mako the robot, who helps with knee and hip replacements.

Mako has been used at Piedmont Medical Center in Fort Mill for a while now, and the surgeon who operates it says it makes a huge difference for patients like Whisonant.

“The happiness increased. The satisfaction scores, which are actual little tests you can have after taking a surgery,” orthopedic surgeon Brian Tallerico said.

Tallerico has been an orthopedic surgeon for almost 20 years. In that time, he has done hundreds of manual knee replacements but decided to start using Mako around four years ago.

He explained that he still has to cut the knee open himself, but after that, all he has to do is set Mako in place and pull the trigger. The machine then makes almost perfect movements to clean the knee and get it ready for a new insert.

“I can say that since using the Mako robot, I’ve only done two without it, and I have no plans on going back to the conventional way of doing it,” Tallerico elaborated. “It has made me more confident in the expectations for the patients. The results were good before it, but they’re even better now.”

As for Whisonant, he is now back in his garden and says he doesn’t care if it was a man, a robot, or both that fixed his knee.

“I’m really happy with it. It’s been life-changing,” Whisonant expressed.

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Eli Brand

Eli Brand, wsoctv.com

Eli is a reporter for WSOC-TV.