Last Summer, swimmer Dara Torres came home from the Olympics with three silver medals. An astounding feat for any athlete, but especially impressive since Torres was 41 when she competed in Beijing, making her the oldest woman to ever swim in the history of the games, and she was competing in pain. Days after her return from China, Dara had shoulder surgery to help alleviate shoulder pain caused from degenerative arthritis.
Unfortunately her pain and surgeries did not end there — knee pain due to missing cartilage made simple acts like going up and down stairs impossible. Although she would like to compete in the 2012 games, Dara said she would also like to chase her young daughter without pain. These are the reasons she underwent a radical and cutting edge (pun intended) knee surgery.
For details on her experimental surgery, read more.
Prior to the surgery, Dara's knee was mined for cartilage cells — 10,000 cells, which all together were about the size of three Tic-Tacs. Over several weeks, the cartilage cells multiplied in a lab to 50 million cells. In surgery, a patch was sewn over the gap in her knee where the cartilage was missing and the new cells were injected into the patch. An MRI done six weeks post-op reveals that cartilage is growing. Dara is back in the pool, although not kicking, and she will be holding off on weight training for months. Already feeling the benefits of "fixing" her knee, Torres says, "The competition, the swimming — that's so not even an issue compared to trying to be there for your daughter."
Leading a very physical life takes a toll on the body, but I think it's cool to hear about new surgical procedures to help heal age-old problems. Do you think she will compete in the 2012 Olympics?