First Cartilage Transplant from a Donor

Christine Ilieva, 21-year-old Bulgarian top model Christine Ilieva, who suffered serious injuries, fractures, and joint cartilage damage in her right leg after a traffic accident, started walking again after treatment at Yeditepe University Kozyatağı Hospital. Ilieva, who is Turkey's first cadaveric cartilage transplant patient, said, "I lost hope when they told me that I would lose my leg. In Turkey, I learned that I should never give up."

Famous Bulgarian top model Christine Ilieva had a major traffic accident in her country Bulgaria. The young woman, who had to wait for an ambulance for about 2 hours after the accident, suffered severe damage to her right leg, thigh, and hip. The young model, who was taken under treatment at the hospital, was told by the doctors that her leg could not be saved. Christine was transferred to another hospital where her leg became infected. The young model, who became unable to use her leg, and even her leg skin was completely destroyed, was brought to Turkey by helicopter ambulance for treatment. 

First Leg Skin and Then Cartilage was Treated

Christina's leg, which was said to be 'amputated' in her country, was saved after the operations performed by Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery Specialist , and Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist. The famous model, who started walking after the treatment but had difficulty in using her knee due to cartilage damage in the knee joint, underwent cartilage transplantation from a donor for the first time in Turkey. In this operation performed by Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç, intact cartilage taken from the person whose organs were donated was transplanted into the damaged area in the patient's knee. In this way, Christine, who started to use her knee again, was able to return to her profession, which she loved very much.

Christine's damaged muscle tendon nerve and vascular tissues in the leg and thigh were covered by Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery Specialist. Giving information about the operation performed, Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery Specialist said, "First of all, we started with the process of cleaning all the wounds. Dead tissues, muscles, skins, and bones were cleaned. Then the leg and thigh wounds were covered with muscle and skin transplants. We dealt with bone fractures in coordination with orthopedics. We prevented the damage caused by infection with muscle tissue transplants to the knee area."

They Suggested to Amputate Her Leg, But Now She Can Walk

Stating that the young woman survived a very difficult hip and knee operation, Yeditepe University Hospitals Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist said, "In two hospitals in her country, it was said that the leg could not be treated, and it was recommended to amputate it. When she came to us, she had a high fever, a serious infection, and open wounds. Her hip and knee bones were in pieces and far away from where they should be. Moreover, it had been almost a month since the accident. We had to remove the bones, which were left scattered and open after the accident, one by one from the tissues and place them in their original places. We performed technically very difficult hip and knee operations after a high-energy accident. The infection she got in the hospital in Bulgaria made the operations even more challenging. At the last point, we completely solved the hip problem. There was cartilage loss in the knee joint. For this, we transplanted cartilage from a cadaver. Christine herself will show us what happens next." 

Turkey's First "Cartilage Transplant from Cadaver"

Stating that they performed knee cartilage transplantation on Christine Ilieva for the first time in Turkey, Yeditepe University Hospitals Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Gökhan Meriç shared the following about the condition of the young woman and the treatment they performed:

"Our patient came to us with a severe fracture of the femur and serious damage to the cartilage of the knee joint. Moreover, her wounds were open and untreated for a long time. After multiple operations performed by Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgery Specialis and rthopedics and Traumatology Specialist , fractures, and damaged soft tissues were treated. However, we planned cartilage transplantation treatment in order to prevent the cartilage damage in the knee joint of our patient to be very large and to prevent restriction of movement in the knee at a young age. For the first time in Turkey, we performed cartilage transplantation treatment by replacing the damaged cartilage of our patient with knee cartilage taken from a person whose organs were donated by their family. If cartilage transplantation had not been performed, the knee would either have been completely frozen or our patient would have needed a knee prosthesis at an early age. As a 21-year-old young person, we gave our patient a chance. It was taken from a young patient who died after a cerebral hemorrhage and whose organs were donated by their family. After the tests we performed and the approval we received from the Ministry of Health, we performed cartilage transplantation on our patient."

"Anything Can Happen in Life, Keep Your Head Up"

Christine Ilieva, explaining that she was treated comprehensively by orthopedic and plastic surgery physicians when she first came to Istanbul, said, "After graduating from high school, I started modeling. I had the opportunity to work with many companies in many countries around the world. This was like a dream come true for me.

After the accident, I started to lose hope and then I survived with the support of people both in Turkey and in my country. Those people believed in me and strengthened my fight. The only thing I believe in now is that anything can happen in this life. Anything can happen to a person, but you should always keep your head up. You should always fight against such things," she said.

Expressing that she lost all hope the moment she thought she would lose her leg in Bulgaria, the young girl said, "I realized that I should never give up. Now I have a hope to return to my old job, profession, and career." The young model, who was in danger of losing her leg and had difficult days, can now use her leg and walks easily.


23 February 2023

See Also

  • The Usage Area of Robotic Surgery Expands in Orthopedic Surgeries
  • Robotic Knee Replacement Surgery
  • Robotic Knee Prosthesis Surgery
  • Treatment of Knee Arthrosis Varies According to the Person
  • Injured Athletes Can Return To Sports With Cartilage Transplant
  • Meniscus Tear Warning: Beware of Sports Grounds!
  • Crunching in the Kneecap May Be a Sign of Calcification
  • 60 Percent of Shoulder Pain Complaints are Caused by Shoulder Impingement
  • Insidious Danger of Pathological Fractures Increase in Recent Years
  • Protective Equipment Required When Using Electric Scooters
  • 6 Problems Causing Pain in the Feet
  • A Lack of Attention to Sports Injuries in Children May Affect Their Development
  • Knee and Hip Arthroplasty Boosts Quality of Life
  • What Should Be Considered In Preventing Home Accidents For The Elderly?
  • He Walked Out Of The Hospital Where He Entered On Crutches
  • Cartilage Transplantation From Donor Has Been Started To Perform in Turkey
  • Beware If Your Shoulder Or Neck Pain Lasts Longer Than Two Days After Swimming!
  • Mistakes While Swimming Can Cause Shoulder Pain
  • Do Not Underestimate Bone Pain That Keeps You Awake and Does Not Ease With Medication!
  • Wear Heeled Shoes Against Heel Spurs
  • Improper Use of Phones, Tablets and Computers Increases Elbow Pain
  • What is a Stress Fracture? How to Treat Stress Fracture?
  • Athlete Injuries
  • 8 Common Misconceptions About Sports Injuries
  • Beware If You Feel Pain In The Front Of Your Knees While Exercising!
  • Knuckle Cracking Can Be Dangerous When It Becomes a Habit!
  • Ergonomics in Automobiles Prevents Accidents
  • Not Only Athletes Suffer from Meniscus Tears!
  • Does Your Shoulder Strain When Lifting Your Arm?
  • Myths About Fractures