Surgeon helps patients avoid total knee replacement

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. -- 35-year-old Charlie Barker never thought time spent playing football and basketball two decades ago would come back to haunt him. 

“When you're younger you can play every day and not think twice about it, but as I was getting older, I would get a little more swelling,” he says

The pain in his knee got worse. In fact, one day a doctor's visit would shed light on a terrifying truth.

“The damage of the cartilage made them think I had been in some kind of major car accident,” he recalled.

There was no hope except knee replacement surgery later in life. That is until he met Dr. Tom Minas at the Paley Orthopedic and Spine Institute at St. Mary's Medical Center.

“What we do is we fix the damage and get people on with their life,” says Dr. Minas.

Dr. Minas isn't your typical knee surgeon. He's uses an advanced technique used by only a few doctors around the world.  “I've performed over 1,000 in the last 23 years,” says Minas.

He brought the technique over from Sweden in 1995 and recently began yet another case giving WPTV an exclusive access into the operating room.

“Now I'm gonna fix two potholes,” he says. Those potholes are areas of damaged cartilage in the knee.

Months ago he extracted good cartilage the size of a Tic Tac from the patient in surgery. It was sent to a lab in Boston where it was grown and multiplied. He's implanting that same cartilage back into the patient's knee where it will continue to grow. “He'll be walking on this in about 3 to 4 months that will be completely filled in.”

Not only does he help fill the hole but he fixes the problem that caused it. In this case, he's drilling and cutting into the bone to realign the entire knee.

“Your legacy is the people you teach for the next generation right, so my goal is to really to get guys to just start doing this, believe in it and do it cause it can offer such tremendous improvement and quality of life,” says Dr. Minas.

Just ask Barker, a father of two who bears the scar but no longer the burden. “Just knowing I'll be able to play, run after my daughter, help play with my son if he's growing, it makes me feel very confident I won't need knee replacement anytime soon,” says Barker.

The typical patient Dr. Minas sees is the weekend warrior, generally, 35 to 40-years-old, male or female, a high school or college athlete who may have had an injury and or may have had their knee scoped before.

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