How a hip replacement helped two men survive 9/11

For Fred Eichler, maybe he was in the right place at the right time or surgery months prior to the September 11th attacks gave him the strength to survive. 

“I got out of the building approximately a minute before the tower collapsed,” he said. “I couldn't have gotten out of the building if I didn’t have Dr. Asnis replace my hip 19 months prior.”

And on Thursday, he wasn't the only one thanking his doctor. Fred took Jonathan Judd, an attorney and new father at the time who worked on the 85th floor under his wing. 

“As soon as the elevator stopped on the 83rd floor and someone got out I heard a whooshing sound,” Judd said. “I looked up and saw all of the elevators across the elevator bank had exploded. I honestly wasn't sure whether or not I'd live or die. Despite being a complete stranger, he did everything he could to keep me calm.”

Without the surgery and the help of firefighters, Fred would not have been able to drag himself down 83 flights of stairs, much less a complete stranger. 

Fred had his most recent hip replacement four months ago. Surgery was just over an hour, and he was home within a few days. Doctors say with modern materials about 90% of people are getting over 20 years on a replaced hip and many people going longer than 30 years. 

“The pain stops as soon as you wake up from the recovery,” said Eichler. “The only pain you have is from the incision. You don’t have that pain in your hip anymore.”

Call it a coincidence, both men's bosses knew each other and ultimately connected the two weeks after when comparing stories of survival. 

And to this day, Fred and Jonathan often speak and get together on or close to September 11th each year to remember the lives lost and to remind each other how lucky they are.