Joanne Donoghue has a husband who shares her adventurous approach to life and two boys who keep her hopping; she does therapy work with Parkinson’s patients; then she spends her “spare” time training for and competing in IRONMAN® competitions. For those who don’t know, an IRONMAN® race is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile marathon.
Joanne’s HSS relationship goes back to 1993 when she was a college soccer player. That was the early days of awareness of ACL injuries in sports and attempts to repair them, and Joanne looked for the best, most advanced way of dealing with her own ACL injury. She chose HSS and Dr. David Altchek, who was at that time a pioneer in arthroscopic ACL repairs. He got her back on the field quickly, but probably the most impressive aspect of that 1993 ACL repair is that 20 years later she still has no scarring or arthritis and no problems. It’s still going strong.
Fast forward to 2010. Joanne was now competing in triathlons and was training for her first IRONMAN® competition when she developed hip problems. She came once again to HSS where Dr. Struan Coleman, one of the few people doing arthroscopic hip surgery, performed a labral repair. Six months later, Joanne did a half IRONMAN®.
Fast-forward again to late 2011. Joanne, experiencing knee pain, returned after 20 years to Dr. Altchek. “He remembered me, which was amazing. I told him he looked the same, except for the salt and pepper hair.” Joanne had a tear of the meniscus tendon in her knee, and underwent surgery. But they discovered that her meniscus wasn’t just torn…it was completely torn away and separated.
This is where the HSS difference really comes into play. The common practice at her age would be to entirely remove her meniscus. But that would have meant Joanne’s IRONMAN® career was over. “Dr. Altchek knew how important IRONMAN® and other physical activities are to me, so he put in the effort to reconnect the meniscus and do the repair. I don’t think any other place would have done that.”
Just 84 days after surgery she was back to running. Eight months post-surgery she competed in her first full IRONMAN®.
“This is who I am. If I couldn’t continue with IRONMAN®, and other things like rock climbing, ice climbing and scuba diving, I don’t know what I would do. And it sets a great example for my kids, that they can do whatever they set their minds to. I just can’t tell you what HSS has meant in my life.”