She was only 10 years old, but playing in the backyard was comparable to playing in the Superbowl. Just after finishing practice for field hockey, she dove directly into a game of touch football with her friends.
“I caught a touchdown pass and stepped on uneven ground,” Kali Mutty, now 20, explained. “It forced my patella to dislocate medially, and then again laterally.“
Kali’s intense pain overcame her as her father carried her from the football field to the emergency room.
“I had never experienced that much pain before,” Kali said. “My first knee physician put me in a half-cast for three months, but it clearly did not treat the underlying issue.”
Kali is not a quitter. She has a fiery, warrior-like attitude. Even as an adult, her passion is obvious as she talks about her struggles, achievements and life story. Despite her extraordinary knee injury at a young age, Kali keeps a strong mentality and fights through her pain. She continued playing field hockey, basketball and volleyball throughout middle school and high school, and currently competes on a college level with the Florida State Field Hockey Club Team.
She kept fighting the near-constant pain, but her situation was so severe physicians from out of state eventually referred her to Dr. Jack Farr, orthopedic knee specialist at OrthoIndy.
“Two physicians, both of whom I trust wholeheartedly, recommended Dr. Farr at OrthoIndy for this procedure as the best option. I decided to go through with it,” Kali said. She was in Florida at the time, preparing to fly to Indianapolis with her parents for the surgery.
Prior to this visit, she and her father traveled to Indianapolis over winter break to meet with Dr. Farr in person.
“My dad and I really liked him and we knew that he would do his best to help me,” Kali said. “I would be willing to travel anywhere to work with a physician like him.”
“She had a developmental problem with how the kneecap rides on the thighbone in her left knee. Instead of a normal groove, her thighbone was misshapen,” said Dr. Farr. “She had progressive deterioration of the knee cap and distal thigh to the point of the cartilage wearing down to bone. Thus, she had continued pain and knee cap instability.”
Because of this, Dr. Farr felt the best route of action for Kali’s recovery would be to find a donor. They needed a kneecap and part of thighbone to transplant.
“I’d never been so nervous for surgery,” Kali explained. “I’ve traveled away from home for surgery before, but it’s a little uncomfortable having to stay in a hotel. I’d rather be at home in my own bed, cuddling with my cat.”
On May 13, 2014, Dr. Farr transplanted a donor kneecap and thighbone groove to treat Kali’s loss of cartilage and misshapen bones. The fit was a match between Kali and the donor, and Dr. Farr said the kneecap fit smoothly. Kali spent a few days in Indianapolis, and then flew back home to Florida to recover.
“For ten years of my life, every time I bent my knee my patella would dislocate. It didn’t matter how many surgeries I had,” Kali said.
The first few days were rough, as with any surgery, but Kali simply wouldn’t quit.
“Now, after the transplant, my left knee feels more stable than my right knee! That’s one part of my physical and emotional recovery that has outshined everything else. The procedure I underwent appears to have actually worked!”
Within the first few days of physical therapy, Kali was able to clearly notice a difference in her ability to function.
On her first day of therapy, every time she lifted her leg, her knee would bend. The following day, she was able to keep her leg completely straight, as it’s supposed to.
“It amazes me that every single day, I feel some sort of validation that I’m recovering physically,” Kali said. “I didn’t think I’d ever feel this again.”
As Kali spoke about her recovery process, she explained how she was feeling mentally as well.
“Psychologically, I have to get used to it. Every time I bend my knees, I prepare myself for it to dislocate as it always has. But it doesn’t. I think that will take some time for me to get used to. I can’t express how crazy it is to me that I now have a knee that actually functions how it’s supposed to!”
Kali’s story has been inspiring. For ten long years, she never once gave up. She went through some major physical and social hardships due to her injury, but always stayed active regardless of the pain. The passion in her voice tells stories of how she constantly pushed through an injury that should have kept her down.
“I’m so thankful for Dr. Farr, Megan Dunning, Dr. Farr’s physician assistant, and the rest of the OrthoIndy Hospital surgical staff,” Kali said. “I’d also like to give a special thank you to Mary. She was my nurse from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Those are difficult hours to work, but she was absolutely incredible. She spent so much time sitting and talking with me that it really got my mind off any pain I was experiencing.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Farr please call 317.884.5163. or learn more about knee pain at OrthoIndy.
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