Ray Medley, 64, is a marathoner, golfer, rock climber, skier and martial artist—oh, and he jumps out of airplanes. Having served as a U.S. Air Force Pararescue man and experiencing his fair share of hard landings, Medley is no stranger to scrapes and bruises. But when pain in his left hip became so severe that he even struggled to walk his dogs, Medley knew that the rescuer himself needed a bit of rescuing.
Recounting the first sight of his MRI scan, Medley notes, “The head of the femur looked like the surface of the moon.” With no cartilage remaining in his hip, it was clear that joint replacement surgery was in order. Needless to say, it was disheartening to be told by several doctors that he would never run or skydive again—it looked like his days of extreme sports were over. Then he met a physician in Chicago, Dr. Richard Berger, a joint replacement surgeon at Rush University Medical Center, who is known for going to extreme lengths for his patients.
Having treated everyone from A-list celebrities to former presidents, Dr. Berger is a world-renowned surgeon. He pioneered a minimally invasive technique for hip and knee replacements that required no cutting of any tissue. His patients not only recover faster than those who undergo traditional joint replacement, but they also experience a more complete recovery, allowing them to return to the sports and lives they love.
Dr. Berger assured Medley that he would return to running, in addition to golfing, climbing, skiing, martial arts and walking his dogs. Then Medley pushed his luck. “I asked him if I could skydive again, even though I hadn’t done it in 29 years.” Dr. Berger’s response was simple: “Well, I’m not giving you this new hip to sit in front of the TV.”
Medley was up and walking the same day of his surgery. Within one month, he was participating in martial arts. In less than five months, he was trekking and climbing at Eldorado Canyon in Boulder, Colorado. Just one year after his hip replacement surgery with Dr. Berger, he was back to the skies and to date has completed nearly 1,600 dives.
He says, “Since that time I have been constantly challenging the prosthetic hip limits with an occasional hard landing. It looks like I will break before it will!”
But it’s not just his prosthetic hip that he is challenging. In August 2018, Medley and a team of skydivers set a world record for the largest formation of Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS), with a total of 75 people.
Seven years post-surgery with Dr. Berger, and Medley has no plans of stopping anytime soon. According to him, “He gave me my freakin’ life back. Dr. Berger makes you feel like you can conquer the world.”