Patient Stories

Wedding Wish Comes True For Allograft Recipient

Last year, Elizabeth (Ellie) Hahn Moore became an allograft recipient after being diagnosed with a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. This experience presented her with unique challenges and helped her become a stronger person.

Growing up, Ellie struggled with her weight. In 2014, she decided it was truly time to make a change in her life. Her journey began with Weight Watchers and running. Through the support of her then-boyfriend, Parker, her family, friends and co-workers, she tried to do something active each day.

She spent the next year increasing her activity through running and her new hobby, SCUBA diving. Ellie had to build strength and endurance in order to pass the diving certification. Pound by pound, the weight slipped off. She began to enjoy running and even started signing up for 5k runs. During all of this transformation, Parker proposed to her.

In April 2015, she woke up and fell on the floor from pain in her right leg. She spent the day icing it, figuring she probably hurt it working out the day before. The following day, there was no improvement and her knee swelled to twice its normal size. Not being able to even straighten her knee, she called off from work and immediately contacted her primary care provider.

After undergoing an MRI, a local orthopedics practice informed Ellie she had a condition that would prevent her from doing any outdoor hobbies. They also told her she should not be walking on her leg due to a piece of bone hanging from her femur. Ellie was in utter shock after learning this was a life-long condition that could derail her active lifestyle.

Ellie decided to get a second opinion and discovered that she had a condition called “osteochondritis dissecans.” Many questions came to mind, but the most important one brought her to tears: “I’m getting married in September. Please can I walk down the aisle? Will I have my surgery by then?” She left the appointment with many unanswered questions.

In May, her doctor decided that Ellie would need surgery, which meant she had to be non-weight bearing until the surgery and six to eight weeks of non-weight bearing post-operatively. However, none of this could happen until a donor was found for her knee. In mid-May, Dr. Paul Weitzel of Boston Sports & Shoulder Center notified her that a fresh osteochondral allograft was available and that the surgery was set for May 29th.

“To me, no amount of ‘thank you’s’ would ever sufficiently express my gratitude for not only helping me get ready for September, but also returning to a normal life,” expressed Ellie. “I was pretty traumatized by the first PA and doctor telling me that I would never return to a normal life again. Now, with renewed hope, I am over the surgery and on the road to recovery.”

Physical therapy, careful balancing and wedding planning got Ellie through the months of June and July. Each time she saw Dr. Weitzel it was good news – everything was healing well. Just like many other girls out there, all her life she had imagined what her wedding would be like. In September, she would realize that dream walking down the aisle without crutches and dancing the night away. “After the wedding, I wrote to Dr. Weitzel and JRF again, sending a picture of Dad and me going down the aisle. As mentioned before – no matter how many times I said thank you, it would never express my gratitude enough.”

At the end of the 2016 school year, Ellie went on a field trip that took her on a two-mile loop up a steep hill with many stairs. “A year ago, I was determined to return to an almost normal life, but didn’t necessarily believe that I could. As I spent all of last summer recovering from the surgery, I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of this summer. Today, I’m doing almost everything that I want – I can hike, walk, and climb and I am scampering after our new puppy. I’m still nervous about higher impact activity but I am working on building up strength and confidence to return to the active lifestyle I started in 2014.”