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Richard Painte

Richard Painte

The graft was a second chance that changed my life

Richard Painte

“At twenty-nine, a skiing accident twisted my knee awkwardly which swelled badly. It settled down but three months later playing squash it gave way. I couldn’t play on and later, with massive swelling, went to my local A and E where the knee was aspirated revealing blood in the joint.

Surgeons found a large defect in the medial femoral condyle and put a carbon fibre pad in this, after drilling the bone to release marrow to produce fibrocartilage. Then two months in a full-length cast, lots of physiotherapy and eventually I was told to return to my normal life. Therefore, I returned to the gym, played squash and even ran again for five years without difficulty… Then the knee started locking and hurting again. Arthroscopy revealed an osteophyte, which was removed but the bad news, was that I had worn away the fibrocartilage and the carbon fibre pad was exposed and wearing badly.   I was told nothing more could be done except repeat the same operation and eventually a total knee replacement was inevitable

After researching for over two years, I contacted an Orthopaedics professor in Sweden who had been trying autologous chondrocyte grafts and he advised me to seek out UK surgeons who were about to start trials. I persuaded my GP to write to six surgeons, Professor Bentley at the RNOH responded, and in 1998, I was his first graft patient. An ACI was performed on a 6-cm. defect on the lateral condyle. Prof Bentley noted that the meniscus had already been removed and that there was superficial fibrillation of the tibial condylar cartilage, which was not treated. Following the procedure, the most painful part was my shin where periosteum had been harvested to cap the graft. Then followed two weeks in a full-length cast, then physio. Moreover, eventually a return to gym and cycling over 12 months…

Figure 2 "Chilterns One Hundred Miles ” Charity Cycle Race,showing Right Knee.

“Chilterns One Hundred Miles ” Charity Cycle Race

I don’t run but do ski every year, cycle (up to 100 miles), walk unrestricted distances (25 miles around Scafell Pike in the English Lake District recently), and exercise in the gym(Figures 1 and 2). Daily walking or movement is pain and restriction free. The graft was a second chance that changed my life – a repair that used my own, living, tissue which didn’t wear away in five years and is still performing seventeen years on!”