WSVN — Blake McCormack loves a challenge.

Blake McCormack: “I’ve hiked throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.”

At 19, he joined the United States Marine Corps but during boot camp he suffered a severe knee injury.

Blake McCormack: “I jumped off one of the logs and I landed sideways and I felt my kneecap pop out of socket.”

The cartilage damage to his knees was so bad that he was forced to take medical retirement. Now he deals with pain every day.

Blake McCormack: “If I have to sit for long periods of time, my knees get very stiff and I’ll get shooting pains.”

Blake felt he was too young for major knee surgery. So he went to see Orthopedic Surgeon Frank McCormick at Holy Cross Hospital who treats younger patients with joint damage like Blake.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “Now we can’t just throw total knees in these younger patients because there’s a shelf life to total knees.”

Dr. McCormick says a knee replacement typically lasts 10 – 15 years, which means in younger patients they could face several more surgeries.

So he’s using cutting-edge technology. Utilizing the patient’s own cartilage to repair the knee.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “The body is really great at healing itself, we just need to help guide it along.”

It’s called a cartilage transplant. Here’s how it works.

The doctor takes cartilage from the patient’s knee.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “Then we will send that off to a lab in Boston where they will grow that out to larger cells.”

Several weeks later, the cells are re-implanted into the knee.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “It will fill over time and have excellent results.”

Blake has just begun the procedure.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “So we took a small portion of cartilage only the size of a tic tac and we sent that to Boston where they’re growing out a suitable number of cells.”

Dr. McCormick says after the cells are re-implanted it could take up to a year to see a full recovery.

Dr. Frank McCormick: “But once that is achieved then he has no limitations and I expect that to last for a good 20 to 30 years.”

Blake is looking forward to the final procedure.

Blake McCormack: “I’m excited because it means a normal life for me.”

And he has a very specific goal in mind.

Blake McCormack: “In about 4 years from now, I want to do the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii.”

Doctors are now applying the same technology to repair shoulder and hip joints.

In the plex, Diana Diaz. 7News.

For More Information:

Holy Cross Orthopedic Institute:

Tel: (954) 958-4800

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