Patient Stories

Kevin D. Sumida, MD

Growing up in Colorado, Shaun struggled with a host of leg and kneeproblems. By the time he moved to Falls Church as an adult, he had titanium plates on both of his shinbones, his left knee was unstable and the articular cartilage, which lines the knee’s bony surface, was damaged. He was so used to dealing with knee issues he barely flinched when he tore his meniscus while out running. “At first, itwasn’t really painful or troublesome,” the 29-year-old says. “But after a while I noticed my knee would lock up when I sat for long periods of time and it became increasingly uncomfortable.”

Shaun consulted Commonwealth surgeon Kevin Sumida, MD, who recommended arthroscopic surgery to address the meniscal tear. At the same time, Dr. Sumida would perform the first part of an autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI)to treat Shaun’s cartilage defects and help restore function in his knee.

Shaun’s surgery and recovery were trouble-free. During the procedure, Dr. Sumida removed a small sample of healthy cartilage cells from his knee and sent them to a lab where they grew and multiplied. Five months later, Shaun returned to Commonwealth and Dr. Sumida performed the second part of the ACI, implanting the new cartilage back into his knee joint. 

This time, rehabilitation was far more challenging. Shaun was on crutches for eight weeks as he followed a specific protocol to restore full function to his knee. Two years later, he’s back to an active lifestyle that includes gym training, swimming, and his new love, snowboarding. He’s also pursuing a bioengineering degree at George Mason University, with a concentration in biomedical signals and systems.

“For someone like me, who always felt limited in what I could do, these surgeries have had a life-changing impact,” he says. “They havemade it possible for me to do so many things now. The entire experience was a complete success.”