YOUNG ATHLETE RETURNS TO SPORTS AFTER BONE AND CARTILAGE TRANSPLANT

By AlloSource – “DOING MORE WITH LIFE”

Erica was 14 years old when she began experiencing knee pain, which the family believed to be a result of a recurring sports-related injury. After three weeks of pain with no improvement, Erica’s mother, Angie, decided to have her visit the Rocky Mountain Youth Sports Medicine Institute for an exam. Angie was convinced that Erica had hyperextended her knee and would probably require a couple weeks of physical therapy.

“As she sat on the exam table, she asked me the innocent question, ‘What if they say I need to have surgery’ and we both laughed because it couldn’t possibly be that bad,” said Angie.

After a thorough examination including xrays, the doctor diagnosed Erica with Osteochondritis Dessicans Lesion of the knee, or OCD, which is a softening of the bone due to a blunt force injury or repetitive motion. Pain from OCD typically presents itself significantly after the original injury occurs. Erica’s doctor explained that she had likely been living with the condition for years and that the bone had progressively softened until it caused pain to catch her attention.

“The diagnosis made perfect sense, since Erica plays the back row on her club volleyball team and is frequently hitting the floor to dive after balls,” said Angie. Erica’s doctor scheduled a surgery to scrape out the damaged bone and then replace it with bone marrow from another part of Erica’s leg. Angie was hopeful for a successful procedure and 100 percent recovery, so her daughter could rejoin her volleyball squad and regain her quality of life.

The surgery began with a scope to assess the damage and found that Erica’s cartilage was shredded due to the softened bone that wasn’t able to support it. At this point, Erica’s surgical team determined she actually needed a bone/cartilage graft to replace the damaged tissue in her knee. Thanks to a generous tissue donation from an anonymous donor, Erica was the lucky recipient of a bone and cartilage transplant.

“I was relieved that Erica was able to get such a well-matched graft that would help her heal and be back to full activity in nine months, but I also felt incredibly heartsick for the parents and family of the 15-yearold who wasn’t going to get the chance to run, jump and live life like Erica would on her new knee,” said Angie.

Angie is thankful for all of the support Erica received from family, friends and her medical team throughout her treatment. Erica’s recovery was successful and she is currently practicing to join her high school’s golf team this spring.

“Erica continues to build strength in her leg, but still laughs at how little her calf is compared to the other leg. Her classmates still freak out a little when they see the big scar running across her knee, but she sees it as another distinction that makes her Erica,” said Angie.

Angie never expected her healthy, athletic 14-year-old daughter to need a tissue donation, but when the unexpected happened, both Angie and Erica were whole-heartedly appreciative for the generous gift provided to them by a young donor. And they send their warmest wishes and love to the donor family.

“We pray for the family who lost their 15- year-old and hope that God has given them comfort and strength. And in my prayers I thank them for the perfectly-fitting gift that they gave Erica,” said Angie.

COLLEGE STUDENT BEATS BONE CANCER

CHARLOTTE: RECIPIENT OF BONE ALLOGRAFT

In 2005, Charlotte was a healthy, active 24-year-old just finishing her Master’s degree at Colorado State University. When she started to experience pain in her arm, Charlotte initially thought it was nothing serious.

She started some chiropractic treatments but the pain did not get better. Next, Charlotte noticed that there was something under her skin that would stick out when she moved her arm. Shortly thereafter an MRI confirmed a tumor and Charlotte was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer.

Charlotte went to see Dr. Ross Wilkins at the Denver Center for Extremities at Risk where she learned about the daunting road ahead: they would do everything they could to beat her cancer, but she may be facing amputation.

After a regimen of chemotherapy that shrunk the tumor, Dr. Wilkins and his team were able to remove Charlotte’s bone and replace it with a bone allograft from AlloSource. Charlotte’s arm was saved from amputation and today she is back to some of the physical activity she enjoyed before cancer.

Although Charlotte has limited mobility in her arm, she is working every day to improve it. She embraced her drug regimen and has also explored nutritional and holistic therapies to assist in her recovery. Charlotte now works at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, one of three high adventure bases owned by the Boy Scouts of America. This summer she will be the staff and events coordinator at the training facility.

While she can’t rock climb anymore, she does pursue the high ropes course, backpacking, hiking and takes hip hop and Zumba classes.

Charlotte cites her faith as a major component of her strength through the cancer battle: explaining that she felt like she was in God’s hands throughout her entire diagnosis and healing process. Now, she’s thrilled to have reclaimed her life and is relishing finding new ways to do old things: a small price for being able to keep her arm.

TISSUE RECIPIENT RECOVERS FROM BONE TUMOR

When Cebrina went to see her doctor for ongoing foot pain, she never imagined that her doctor would diagnose her with a rare bone disorder. A bone scan revealed a four-inch tumor in Cebrina’s femur. Her diagnosis was Fibrous Dysplasia, an uncommon bone disease that causes bone pain, deformities and fractures. It can go unnoticed for years and can eventually cause bones to bow or fracture. Her foot pain was unrelated to the Fibrous Dysplasia, but if not for the bone scan, the tumor in her leg could have continued to grow until it caused a bone fracture.

Cebrina’s tumor had likely been growing for many years. Cebrina’s doctor told her the tumor, though benign, was changing the shape of her femur and needed to be removed. After removing the tumor, her surgeon used cortical and cancellous chips, types of bone allografts, to fill the void in her femur. Bone allografts are created from tissue provided by generous donors who have passed away.

“You take your health for granted until something like this happens,” she said. “As I’m healing and getting better, I’m so appreciative of what I have.” After surgery, Cebrina used crutches and eventually a cane to help her walk. She was determined to stay active and walked her dog along their usual route, even though it took two hours instead of one. Through exercise and physical therapy, she eased back into her normal routine. Three weeks after surgery, Cebrina returned for half days to her busy job as the Audio Visual Administrative Assistant and Production Assistant for the Illinois Farm Bureau.

Cebrina reflected on receiving donated tissue during her procedure, and said that following surgery she double-checked her own donor status. “I figured that someone gave to me and I want to pay that back someday,” she said. Cebrina gauges her improvement by how long her walking route takes her, and she is happy to report her route is back to one hour. Her family encouraged her throughout the recovery process and bought her a stationary bike, so she could stay active. She is thankful for her health and for the donor who helped make her recovery possible.

TIME ON THE PLAYGROUND HAS NEW MEANING THANKS TO BONE ALLOGRAFT

CAMPBELL
RECIPIENT OF: BONE ALLOGRAFT by AlloSource

When eight-year-old Campbell began complaining about arm pain, her mother took her to the doctor to find out the cause. Doctors discovered a large bone cyst in her arm and scheduled surgery to drain it. The unfortunate diagnosis forced her to stop swimming, playing basketball and enjoying time on the playground. Since Campbell is a very active child, time away from her favorite activities proved challenging.

Before Campbell could go in for surgery, she fell and broke her arm. Her doctor hoped the break might encourage the tissue to regenerate and prevent the need for surgery. However, after several months of waiting, they weren’t seeing any positive signs of healing. In November of 2014, Campbell’s doctor drained the bone cyst and filled the void with a bone allograft, tissue from a deceased human donor.

“The surgery worked well,” said Campbell’s mother, Pamela. “Her bone cyst is mostly gone and Campbell’s doctor gave her the green light to resume normal activities.” Campbell is now back on the playground, thanks in part to a generous tissue donor.

Campbell and her family are forever grateful to the donor, as well as the family and friends of the person who chose to donate tissue. The experience also reaffirmed her mother’s belief in organ and tissue donation.

“I hope that my daughter’s story will inspire people to consider donation,” said Pamela. “It is such a humane way to make the passing of another human into a lovely act of kindness. I’m grateful to the person who helped improve my daughter’s quality of life. She is a ray of sunshine in this world.”