Help save Louis' right leg

Hi I'm Louis, I'm 34, I'm trying to raise the money to pay for essential surgery on my right knee so I will be able to walk properly again, work and reduce the pain I’m in every day. 

I'm not great at accepting I need help, and not much better at asking for it. This year I've had to swallow all my pride and learn how to ask.

The surgery is booked on 4th January 2018

On January 25th 2017 I broke my knee in a skiing accident. I suffered a severe fracture to the lateral side of my right tibia. In layman's terms I totally destroyed my knee. 

I hit a bump and ended up cartwheeling down the slope. The skis did not come off so the full force of the impact was delivered directly down my femur (big leg bone) into my tibia (smaller leg bone) completely crushing my knee and smashing it into pieces.

The French surgeons patched the fragmented bone up as best they could using a slightly unconventional method, leaving a broken drill bit in my leg and taking some extra bone from my shin in vain to try and help fill the missing knee. By all accounts I think they ran out of ideas.

I was greeted each morning with a lot of head shaking from surgeons in white coats giving 3rd and 4th opinions. I could tell something severe had happened but I couldn't understand what was being said. 

After 5 days in the French hospital I flew back home presuming it would all be okay in time.

I had a second surgery on the NHS in March at Poole hospital to remove the three wires (K-wire) at the top, as they had begun to stick out of my leg once the swelling had reduced, which was causing me unbearable amounts of pain. 

I wasn't offered physiotherapy on the NHS, so I paid for my own. I was also exercising the rest of my body to keep strong, help circulation and keep a positive focused mindset. I stayed on top of my diet and nutrition eating healthily. In my mind I was doing everything I could to secure a decent recovery.  

I am a self-employed professional session guitarist and singer, I make my living touring and playing live.

I have tried to continue working as much as I can this year, particularly as I am aware that I will be unable to work for several months after the surgery. With a lot of help from my friends and very understanding touring crews, we have found a way to keep me on stage, helping me round venues and propping me up on a stool during shows. 

I am thankful to have been able to work when possible, but truthfully it has been extremely tough physically and mentally working in different stage environments and being forced to sit down in front of audiences because I simply cannot stand up long enough and perform as I used to. Although I have nearly learnt to balance well on my good leg for my guitar solos ;) 

After a few months, I noticed my leg had set at an abnormal angle, really sticking outward and the knee was collapsing inward. I was waiting for my follow up appointment hoping to discuss how to fix this. 

Instead, on July 19th I left the hospital in complete shock having been informed that the surgeries I'd had had failed, "the knee has completely collapsed" and “this is now a limb threatening" issue. We discussed potentially losing my leg and I was told at best I will never run again, never do any kind of impact sports and that this is a life changing accident for me. 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Aside from being an energetic performer onstage, I've always been a very active person, trekking, running and practicing Krav Maga (martial arts) all of which play a massive part in my life. So to hear this was devastating. 

My Journey with the NHS ended when I was advised to "learn to live with it and see how you get on"

To me this is not the way. We've sent a bloody man to the moon, built robots and dived to the bottom of the ocean!! Surely there must be something someone can do. 

Not having private healthcare I began my journey finding my path paying to see various different professors and surgeons. It seemed my best option was a custom knee replacement, which is a most excellent solution to relieve someone later on in life suffering from osteoarthritis, however I'm 34 years old, very active, in the middle of my career, I wasn’t convinced this was going to give the best outcome so I kept looking. 

I met a wonderful orthotist who helped fit me with a decent knee brace to help me be more mobile. This has helped me with my work, making it easier to walk on and offstage to my stool, and get about in a little less pain during the day. 

Through her, I met a physiotherapist who introduced me to a top knee surgeon. I had an appointment with him, and we discussed a surgery that he performs that no one else in the UK performs. He will take some of the inside of my hip bone, remove the existing metal work and fragmented bone and reconstruct the knee using the hip bone. Then reset the knee at a slightly bowed angle to move the pressure on to the better side.

It is not available on the NHS. It is major surgery and will be painful but if successful will give me a lot better function and mobility. 

As it stands, or doesn't (excuse the pun) every day since the accident is filled with substantial pain and a constant struggle to do my job, move around and generally operate normally.

This accident has left me somewhat disabled and I believe I have found a chance to restore some normality, reduce the pain and hopefully be able to walk normally again.

So that is why I'm here asking for help raising funds for the surgery. 

I know there are people worse off than me and people much better off than me, but right now I have to concentrate on fighting my corner. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and any help you can offer is most appreciated. 

Best, Louis


1. After Surgery

2. Fragmented Bone, side angle, after accident.

3.  Metal work, note 3 'K-wires' at the top.

4. Nephew helping do my shoelace after 2nd surgery

5. After appointment in July.

This is the current status of my knee

6. Trying to work earlier this year

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Louis Riccardi 
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
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