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Carla Abbi-Tissue recipient

pic on bikeIn the summer of 1986 I was tackled during a powder-puff game and tore my left ACL. I had no idea at the time how my life had just changed forever. I was 16.

I underwent a surgery to repair the acl and meniscus and was placed in a hip-to-ankle cast for the next 6 weeks. Naturally the joint seized from non use and needed to be manipulated back into a normal range of motion through an extremely painful process of months of physical therapy. When the process was ‘complete’ and I was released, I noticed pain, swelling, instability and frequent twisting and additional tearing of the meniscus.

I had gone from a running, active cheerleader to a couch potato with the knee of a senior citizen in a fraction of a second. The best the doctors could offer was a life of regular, light walking, biking and some swimming.

I soon found my way to the pool. For the next thirty years I swam, and eventually taught water aerobics. Being in the water was the only way I could exercise without the weight injuring the joint further and pain of premature arthritis.

Only in 2014, after countless re-injuries, did I finally give up. I had injured it from simply treading water in the pool. I sought a surgeon. The MRI showed a need to replace the ACL and repair the meniscus once again. When the surgeon put me under for the operation, he was able to lift my lower leg freely out of the joint and wondered how I had managed to have any semblance of an active life for as long as I had.

My donor acl is amazing! I want to thank you, my ever unknown donor, for what your sacrifice has done for my life. I walked the same day the surgery! The pain was gone and my leg felt stable. Because of your donation of an ACL, I now know what stable feels like. My whole gait has changed as my other leg was able to stop taking over all the work! I have no more back pain from walking askew….Then the most amazing thing happened…I slipped on a wet floor…this would normally have meant weeks of severe pain, swelling and slow rehab, no more carrying groceries or playing with the boys….but instead….NOTHING! I slipped, corrected, caught myself with the new ACL leg, and just stood there. Stunned. Nothing. It felt strong!

Last week I biked 20 miles to town, I ran for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, I took my dog for a trail run, I played catch with my son in the yard. I still love my water aerobics, and I will be taking a skydive with my husband and your ACL just as soon as the weather warms up. These might seem like trivial things to one, but for me who has done without these joys for 30 years, I cannot thank you enough for changing my life!