Allograft Possibilities

ALLOSOURCE & DONOR ALLIANCE INTRODUCE TISSUE RECIPIENT TO HIS DONOR’S MOTHER

AlloSource and Donor Alliance, the federally-designated nonprofit organ procurement organization serving Colorado and most of Wyoming, worked together to introduce Phil, a cartilage recipient, to his donor’s mother, Annette.

As former Division I soccer player and athlete, being active was crucial to Phil’s lifestyle. In 2011, he started having knee pain and then suddenly lost the use of his leg. After receiving a diagnosis of Osteochondritis Dissecans, Phil underwent surgery in 2012, which unfortunately failed. Determined to regain his mobility for his wife, new son, and himself, Phil sought another surgeon in 2014 and was amazed to learn about the possibilities of tissue donation. After undergoing an osteochondral allograft transplant for a femoral condyle defect, Phil wrote several letters to his donor’s family to express his overwhelming gratitude, not knowing anything about his generous donor and donor family.

What Phil didn’t know yet is that his donor was Marcos, Annette’s son. Marcos was the life of the party, a joy to his family and friends, and a beloved person in his local community. He loved dancing, food and was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage. When he passed away suddenly, Annette knew Marcos would want to continue to help others through the gift of donation.

When Phil visited AlloSource and Donor Alliance this summer, the organizations collaborated to facilitate an in-person meeting between Annette, Phil and Phil’s wife Lisamarie. A meeting between a tissue recipient and donor family is rare and this was the first of its kind for both Donor Alliance and AlloSource.

After Annette arrived, she and Phil embraced for several moments before sitting down to learn more about each other. Phil and Lisamarie finally had the opportunity to say “thank you” in person and hear about Marcos, the man who helped Phil return to his life as an active husband, father of two boys, and avid cross-fit athlete. During the span of nearly two hours, Annette, Phil and Lisamarie shared stories, marveled at similarities between their families, and learned more about how Marcos continues to make a positive impact in all their lives every day.

ENDURANCE ATHLETE SHARES LIFE-CHANGING CARTILAGE TRANSPLANT EXPERIENCE

Meg

On any given day, Meg would be out the door before the sun rose, ready to coach for USA Cycling or teach a yoga class. As an endurance athlete and mother to a busy toddler, her health is crucial to her lifestyle.

Though she endured knee pain for several years, a fall off of her mountain bike was the catalyst to a visit with an orthopedic surgeon.

“After my knee scope, it was clear there was a bigger issue,” Meg said. “I basically had no cartilage left on my knee.”

While exploring her surgical options, Meg met with Dr. Vishal Mehta and learned about a new cartilage product, ProChondrix®.

AlloSource’s ProChondrix is a fresh osteochondral allograft that helps deliver the necessary components for cartilage restoration. This next generation of cartilage therapy provides live cells and other biological components, which are necessary for repair and regeneration of damaged cartilage tissues.

Dr. Mehta felt ProChondrix would help give Meg back her quality of life. Before embarking down a surgical path, Meg and Dr. Mehta had several in-depth conversations about the procedure and ProChondrix.

“Dr. Mehta asked me, ‘where do you want to be in a year? Do you want to still be in pain when you go out for a run or a ride? Or do you want to feel pain-free and feel like you have control of your knee?’” she explained.

Meg felt confident in ProChondrix and Dr. Mehta and underwent surgery in the summer of 2015. After the procedure, Meg began an aggressive physical therapy regimen and is now back on her bike both coaching and riding for fun.

She recently visited AlloSource and got to see firsthand how allografts are processed. She also reflected on what it means to receive donated human tissue.

“You’re receiving a donation from somebody’s loved one. To know that’s going into my knee, it was emotional. It’s very humbling and makes you appreciate the process.”

When she talks about her experience, Meg’s feelings of gratitude and excitement are tangible.

“Hands down, this was the best decision for me,” she said. “My deep knee pain is gone, I’m functional and I can keep up with my son again. It’s a world of difference.”

TISSUE DONATION HELPS YOUNG BURN VICTIM HEAL FROM BIKE ACCIDENT
Levi

On a warm summer afternoon, Levi, an energetic nine-year-old, ran outside to ride his new dirt bike. Unfortunately, his delight was short-lived: as he went over a jump, Levi fell off the bike and it landed on his leg.

The exhaust pipe on the bike seared into his leg and caused second- and third-degree burns.

“I knew something was wrong when he didn’t start screaming,” Levi’s mother, Melissa, said. “I don’t think he felt the full extent of how bad his burns were.”

Levi’s parents were familiar with burns, as his grandfather survived being burned over 40% of his body in a work accident. After seeing the extent of his injury, Levi’s parents rushed him to the hospital. They were sent to the burn center, where doctors anesthetized him and scrubbed the burns on his leg. Doctors then used donor skin to cover the burned area.

Due to the lengthy healing time Levi needed, he missed school from the end of January through the end of April. Doctors instructed the busy young boy to refrain from bending his leg as much as possible.

After watching her stepfather heal from severe burn injuries, Melissa was familiar with the process. She took meticulous care of Levi’s wound and dressings throughout his recovery.

“The donor skin provided amazing protection,” said Melissa. “It protected him for so long, and with a wound as big as his, infection was a huge risk.”

Once the donor skin was removed, Melissa was astonished at the results.

“His leg healed so amazingly,” she said. “In the beginning, I wouldn’t have thought it could have healed that well.”

Watching Levi’s experience with donated tissue inspired his older brother to become an organ and tissue donor when he got his driver’s license.

Levi and his family are grateful for the generous donation that aided his healing.

“I’m so thankful that somebody would offer that donation,” said Melissa. “It is a selfless act and an amazing gift. Even after somebody is gone, they are still giving and helping somebody. It’s a blessing.”

TENDON ALLOGRAFT HELPS COLORADO WOMAN GET BACK OUTSIDE

Kate

For Kate, an energetic Colorado resident, a torn ACL was a devastating injury. She led a very active life and did not want the injury to rob her of her favorite hobbies.

Kate tore her ACL 20 years ago and doctors repaired it using an autograft, a tendon from her own body.

Unfortunately, she tore it again while skiing. This time around, doctors opted for a tendon allograft, recovered from a donor who passed away.

“I felt that the more recent surgery using the tendon allograft had me back doing the things I love much faster and with no pain,” Kate said.

After her recovery, Kate returned to the outdoor sports that she loves. She is able to hike, run, bike and ski thanks to her healed ACL.

She thinks of her donor’s family and feels sad for their loss and extremely appreciative for the tendon donation that improved her quality of life. She honors her donor by staying healthy and exercising as much as she can.

Kate has a unique appreciation for donation, and not just because she is the recipient of donor tissue. Her husband will soon be an organ recipient – he is scheduled to have a kidney transplant due to Type 1 Diabetes.

He is fortunate to have a living donor, but so many have died waiting on the list,” she said. “I know how important it is to be registered.”

Though many people understand the life-saving and life-enhancing benefits of organ and tissue donation, Kate and her husband are a testament to just how crucial it really is and the amazing ways it can change lives.

ACL Recipients

Amniotic Tissue Recipient

Bone Recipients

Cartilage Recipients

Ligament Recipients

Meniscus Recipients

Skin Recipients

Tendon Recipients