As an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. Michael E. Pollack knows the value of donor tissue. He routinely uses donor tissue to help select patients with torn Anterior Cruciate Ligaments (ACLs), dislocated knee caps, or severely separated shoulders.
Dr. Pollack’s patients can walk normally again, return to sports, or live their lives without constant pain and disability because of the many surgeries he conducts with donor tissue. “These tissues or allografts enable us to reconstruct damaged ligaments using minimally invasive techniques that minimize pain for the patient,” he said.
“No man-made materials can replace the tissue we receive because of the generosity of donors,” said Dr. Pollack, a Sports Medicine specialist at the Hunterdon Orthopaedic Institute in Flemington, NJ.
To show his thanks, Dr. Pollack supported the NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Walk & USATF-Certified Race on June 8. He walked in support of the team created by one of his patients, Michelle Brugger, a business leader and owner of Martial Arts for Life in downtown New Providence. Michelle completely tore her ACL at age 24 could not walk or maintain stability in her knee. Since ACL reconstruction with donor tissue by Dr. Pollack over 9 years ago, Michelle has resumed her very active lifestyle.
“The surgery allowed me to be myself again, to do what I love,” Michelle said. “I never really thought where the donor tissue came from or think of someone's generosity to donate. I have a great sense of gratitude now. I have my life back because someone chose to give a gift that could help so many.”
One donor can provide corneas, heart valves, skin, bone, and tissue to help as many as 50 people. Donated skin is needed for burn patients, corneas provide the gift of sight, and bone can help cancer patients.
More examples exist, including many applications in Orthopaedics. Dr. Pollack said donor tissue, or allograft tissue, provides a biological scaffold that allows a patient's own body to revascularize and repopulate the donated tissue creating a new ligament.
“You eventually make it your own over time. It becomes a dynamic structure that, once it heals, can handle all the repetitive stresses of the native ligament,” Dr. Pollack said.
He also knows that nearly 5,000 people in New Jersey are awaiting life-saving organs, such as hearts, livers, and kidneys.
“I and so many of my patients are beneficiaries of donation and for that I am very thankful. But of course it is not just ligaments, we can save lives with organ donation. That's why my wife and I are both registered organ donors and support this wonderful event. It's the least we can do,” he said.
To donate to the NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Walk & USATF-Certified Race, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org. To learn more, get involved, and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org or call 1-800-742-7365.