Why this NZ Family Man chose Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany (Joel's Story) - SkyGen

Why this NZ Family Man chose Artificial Disc Replacement in Germany (Joel’s Story)

Joel is a 50 year old Company Director from Auckland, New Zealand. He first injured his back 28 years ago, and after a serious prolapse in early 2017, was told he needed a spinal fusion.

He contacted SkyGen directly and we helped him with an assessment of his case by Dr. Thomas Bierstedt and Dr. Bernd Illerhaus of the ONZ Centre in Dusseldorf. He was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease in L4/5 and L5/S1.

Our surgeons advised for a total discectomy by anterior surgical approach and M6-L Disc Replacement at L4/5 and L5/S1.

With our support Joel discussed his options with his GP in New Zealand, and various spine surgeons in New Zealand and Australia. He investigated all of his surgery options and decided 2-level Disc Replacement in Germany was better for him than a fusion, and certainly better than doing nothing. He favoured the M6 Disc as a new generation implant which can very closely replicate the motion of a healthy natural disc. He spoke to Dr. Bierstedt on the phone and we connected him with previous Skygen patients who’d had the same surgery.

He came to us with his decision to proceed with surgery, and we organised his entire trip for him. Part of this process was attaining a pre-travel Blood Test & ECG to check for any underlying disease or health issues which could see surgery postponed or cancelled at the hospital in Germany.

We soon received the “Green Light” from the surgeons in Germany and he was given clearance to proceed.

Click to watch the video on Joel’s experience in Germany…

Joel’s 3 Month Follow-Up X-Rays show ‘textbook’ placement and function of the M6 Discs

X-Ray showing L4/5 and L5/S1 M6 Disc Replacement in Germany

10 weeks after his surgery in Germany, Joel sent us the following email.

Hi Jake & Skygen Team,

Good to go to a movie last night. No troubles sitting through a two and a half hour movie and that was on the back of my catch up lunch with Taran that was two hours! 9 & 1/2 weeks post op. I have also attached some more pictures for you, let me know if you want any more of my journey. I will keep the updates coming. cheers

So I must say thanks to the whole team this includes you Jake and SkyGen for my surgery right from “Tomas the Taxi” at pick up at the airport to drop off at the end. Was amazing service.

My surgeons Dr. Thomas Bierstedt and Dr. Bernd Illerhaus worked their magic, the experience they have to produce the results gave me the best confidence in what I was doing and an unbelievable result.

My problem started 28 years ago when I prolapsed L4/5 and L5/S1 and had to give up building. Over those almost 3 decades my daily life has shrunk a little every year till this year where it was completely destroyed and I was advised I needed a double fusion.

Not wanting a fusion as I know how bad fusions are long term led me to search for an alternative and that’s when I found the ONZ Clinic.

Once I went through the research process, references, approvals it was a no brainer this surgery was a must for me.

As I said earlier the entire process from pick up to drop off was fantastic, I had nothing to worry about, think of, or organise. It was all streamlined and seamless.
The entire staff at the hospital, every person there from surgical and medical staff right down to the cleaner who washed the floors of my room every day was there for me, nothing was an issue or problem and the speed and efficiency that they attended to what I needed was fantastic. They were so friendly and helpful that I will remember each and every one of them.

The same has to be said for Rehab at Medicos. What an amazing facility.
From the time we checked into the Courtyard Marriott to leaving, just fantastic.
20min after arrival at the hotel I was collected and given the tour of Medicos and explained what and where, given my daily schedule and straight into rehab where every day I met with my assigned team including Doctor for daily assessment, wound management with the nurse, physiotherapy, Ergo Therapy, lymphatic massage, massage, occupational therapy and Gym.
The fact there is a restaurant there made your day very easy but having a reserved table for the ONZ patients every day made it that much easier and made you feel special.

All I had to do every day was just focus on me and recovering.
It is all the added bits of the refined process that ONZ have crafted along with unequalled surgical skills that allowed me to fly back to NZ 16 days post-surgery in comfortable enough condition.

Every patient is different, I am sure there are different speeds to recovery.
I have been very happy with mine, 28 years of getting shorter in height and compressing nerves that are then decompressed in two hours and prosthetics that make me an inch taller has to take some recovery and rehab.

My nerves were angry causing me grief but as Dr Bierstedt said “this DISTRACTION pain is to be expected”. I must also add a very important point. The first day post-surgery that they stood me up in hospital, I had ZERO back pain that I arrived with and have had none since.

I have worked tirelessly everyday on my rehab and exercises with amazing results each week.

As you know 28 years of degeneration after an injury like that on the entire spine is not good either. I was hoping that the by-product of the surgery would help the rest of my spine, and I must say from day one improvement elsewhere has been amazing no more neck headaches, I am doing exercises in the gym that I couldn’t before!!

I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the team that have given me a second chance in life.

My 14 year old son doesn’t have to tie my shoelaces for me anymore and is excited about what we can do together this summer, my wife of 20 years a relationship that spans a quarter of a century has not known me without a sore back.

Thank you for my future.



Have you received a diagnosis or been recommended for spinal surgery?

Contact SkyGen today with any questions, and our team are happy to assist you. So far we’ve helped patients travel from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and South Africa to Germany for motion-preserving spine surgery. We are experts at coordinating every little detail of the medical travel journey from start to finish.

*Please read: Although the information provided on this page may describe a particular patient experience and/or outcome, readers must understand that each patient presents with a unique medical history and may be recommended a different treatment/surgery by their surgeon to that described above. Individual results may vary between surgery centre/hospital, surgeon, surgery type and patient. Although SkyGen agrees to share all updates from patients at their request, SkyGen does not endorse any physical activities attempted by patients following surgery which do not follow the explicit instructions provided by their surgeon. SkyGen encourages all patients to discuss the risks of such activities with medical professionals before attempting these themselves.

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Written by SkyGen Public Relations

This content is copyright and property of SkyGen Spinal & Orthopaedic. It was written to educate our patients in making informed decisions regarding their own healthcare. SkyGen is Australia's largest international collaboration between world class regenerative medicine clinics and orthopaedic hospitals.