Cartilage donation helping younger patients avoid joint replacement

promo297054044There is a transplant that keeps professional athletes in the game and works the same way to keep regular patients on their feet. For young adults not yet ready for joint replacement and who can’t go the distance living with debilitating pain, donor cartilage comes into play.

An intact, healthy piece of cartilage orthopedic surgeon Dr Brian Cole will transplant in his patient’s knee is about the size of a quarter.

The procedure is called an osteochondral allograft. But before Dr Cole, professor orthopedic surgery at Rush University Medical Center, could do the surgery, he needed donor tissue.

Think of it like an organ donation.

“Someone who would otherwise donate their heart, liver and lungs also donate their cartilage,” Dr Cole said. “Typically they are very young donors. Most of them have died in traumatic accidents and things of that nature but we utilize their cartilage to treat local spots of arthritis.”

Once the donor cartilage is tested and deemed safe for transplant – a process that takes about 14 days — the graft is pressed right into the defective area.

By Katharin Czink & Dina Bair | WGN News

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