As a world-class martial arts competition medalist and popular teacher in the San Francisco Bay area, May 61, teaches 30 hours a week and practices for competitions and performances. She also serves as a judge at international martial arts competitions.

A knee injury threatened to end her career altogether. May’s left knee began to swell after workouts, and physical therapy didn’t help. She met with doctors but resisted surgery because she felt it would interfere with her competitions. Cortisone injections and later Hyalgan injections were used to lubricate her knee, but after three months the initial positive effects wore off. Her doctor suggested an allograft transplant. At first May felt strange about donated tissue, but then decided that it would be her best chance at resuming a normal life. She received a fresh tissue transplant from a young donor who lost his life in a car accident, and her recovery was quite remarkable.

Since her transplant, May has returned to martial arts competition with continued success. She serves as judge in international competitions in the Bay Area and as a member of the U.S. Wushu team, she won two individual World Championship medals in China. When she returned home, she sent the medals and a note to AlloSource, which processed the tissue for her transplant, and asked that the medals be given to the donor family.

“Everything I’ve done since the transplant and all that’s to come are because of the tissue donor family,” said May. “The allograft gave me a second chance to fulfill an unrealized destiny.”

May continues to teach and compete with a new life and vigor to her practice. She views her new knee as a gift and intends to keep making a difference with it.

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By AlloSource – “Doing More with Life”


A large part of who Cameron had become was likely over. Competing as a student athlete on the lacrosse field was what he loved most. As team captain, he had every intention of leading his team throughout his senior year. Additionally, he was planning to continue playing the sport he loved in college.

“When I got word from my doctor that my senior year of lacrosse was over, I was devastated,” said Cameron.

During a game, Cameron injured his ankle. Thinking it was a minor injury, he continued playing. Despite initially thinking it was just a sprain, he woke up the next morning to an ankle swollen to the size of a basketball.

“We went to the emergency room wondering if my ankle was broken or shattered,” said Cameron. The news was grim. Cameron’s ankle was completely shattered. In his mind, his lacrosse playing days were over.

His doctor however, had a different idea. He knew about a procedure that had been successfully performed on over 40 adults.

“They said the procedure involved using cartilage from a child donor and injecting it into my ankle,” said Cameron. Though no one as young as Cameron had ever had the procedure, he and his doctors decided it was his best option. The procedure was a success.

“I was out of the hospital in about four hours and I only had to stay on pain medicine for about three or four days,” he said.

After just two weeks of recovery, Cameron was back working with his trainer on his upper body strength and flexibility while his ankle was recovering. By the second month, he was in a walking boot going to all of his classes.

“This procedure clearly allowed me the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love, lacrosse,” said Cameron. “My doctor said that without this new technology I was unlikely to ever have the mobility necessary to play lacrosse at the college level. If I had gotten pins and screws installed instead of this procedure I am sure I would not be on my school’s team today.”

When first told about the procedure, Cameron felt uneasy. He realized that while he was recovering, a family would be grieving.

“I understood that a family lost a very young child so I could get healthy again,” he said. “But at the same time, they were brave enough to honor their family member by donating their organs and tissue. The more I thought about the surgery and the gift I was getting, the more I realized the best way to honor my donor was to live my life to its fullest.”

Cameron not only tells his friends and family to become donors, he also thinks of his donor family while he plays the sport he so loves.

“There are many times when I am tired in practice or a game when I have a quick thought to dig a bit deeper as a small measure of thanks for all that I have been given,” Cameron said. “I feel that I am tremendously fortunate to have been given such a gift.”

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By AlloSource: Doing More with Life


Jake’s life was never without sport: as one season ended, another began. Soccer became basketball, basketball became track, and he enjoyed the athletic challenge of each sport. However, constant knee pain threatened to put Jake on the bench.

Jake’s knee pain started three years ago and doctors suggested he try stretching and physical therapy to remedy the problem, but the pain persisted. When running or playing soccer, his knee would sometimes give out and it became clear to Jake and his parents that more medical attention was necessary.

“I didn’t feel that I was able to compete to my full potential,” said Jake. “I had an obvious limp when running, but I didn’t know what was causing it.”

After an MRI, Jake’s doctor diagnosed him with Osteochondritis dissecans, a joint condition in which cartilage and bone in the knee become loose. Though he was in the midst of a basketball season and looking forward to track, Jake’s diagnosis forced him to stop playing.

Jake and his family sought a second opinion after his diagnosis and they met Dr. John Polousky of HealthONE Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver. After weighing his options, Jake and his doctor moved forward with surgery. During the procedure, Dr. Polousky used bone and cartilage allografts to replace the damaged tissue and realigned the weight-bearing line in Jake’s leg.

Jake understood prior to his surgery that a deceased tissue donor made the bone and cartilage allografts possible.

“My immediate reaction was sadness. Today I am very appreciative that the person chose to be a donor and wanted to help someone beyond their own life.”

Part of Jake’s recovery included the use of  an external fixator with metal pins anchored into entry points in his leg. “After the surgery I noticed all of the attention I received from strangers. I don’t think they had ever seen an external fixator, and it did look strange,” he said.

Jake recently had the external fixator removed and has started his exercise regimen again. He rides his bike 12 miles per day and does not have any pain.

Receiving donated tissue affirmed Jake’s belief in donation. He registered as a donor when he got his driver’s license and hopes that others will consider registering too.

“I have felt the impact of what it really means to receive something from someone you don’t know. I would be interested in knowing about my donor’s life because
they are a part of me now. He or she made it possible for me to be healthy, so that I can do the things I like to do.”

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Image result for spinal stenosis

Cindy suffered from spinal stenosis, a condition causing the open spaces in the spine to narrow, which can put pressure on the nerves. The condition can cause pain, numbness and muscle weakness. She already endured one spinal surgery, but it didn’t correct the issue.

“The spinal stenosis greatly affected my life,” she said. “I had to lay down most of the day, and still was in incredible pain, even though I was on pain medication. I had no quality of life.”

She was unable to work or do many things without help. Because the pain was so severe, she underwent a second spinal fusion procedure.

During the surgery, her doctor used cancellous chips, a type of bone allograft that can be used in a variety of orthopedic procedures.

“The recovery following surgery was difficult, but it was all worth it in the end,” Cindy said. “I went from being unable to function to being able to do anything I want to do. I have no pain and no limitations.”

After her surgery and recovery, Cindy took time to reflect on what it meant to receive donated human tissue in the procedure.

“I feel incredibly blessed that a donor was available to help me in this way. I am sorry someone lost their life, of course, but I am very glad that the donor and the donor’s family were unselfish enough to donate.”

She also thought about what she would say to her donor, if she could.

“I would tell my donor how much they changed my quality of life for the better, and how I would never forget the sacrifice they made. My life has changed 180 degrees because of the transplant made available to me.”

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