Tamil Nadu

Indian women’s football player undergoes ligament transplant at govt. hospital in Chennai

B. Mariammal, a national-level football player, who underwent transplantation of ligament, recuperating at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital under the supervision of arthroscopic surgeon Leonard Ponraj.

B. Mariammal, a national-level football player, who underwent transplantation of ligament, recuperating at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital under the supervision of arthroscopic surgeon Leonard Ponraj. | Photo Credit: R. RAGU

A 19-year-old footballer of the Indian women’s team underwent a unique procedure at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital here for a ligament tear on Friday.

B. Mariammal sustained a ligament tear, common among sportspersons, in her left knee while practising at the Khelo India camp in Chennai three weeks ago. “I was faking the ball when I twisted my leg and knew immediately that I had injured the knee,” she said. “My friends said I would be okay if I took rest it but I knew I would need a surgery.” She was referred by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu to M. Leonard Ponraj, head of arthroscopy and sports injury department at the hospital.

Mariammal hails from Tiruchi and her father Balamurugan works in a powerloom in Salem. She learned to play football by watching her brother, now a State player. Since Class VII, she has been playing the sport and is a student of SDAT Namakkal Hostel of Excellence and is a second year student of B.A. Tamil at A.V.S. Arts and Science College, Salem. The left forward striker represented India in the Asian football league in Iran in 2022; in friendly matches against Brazil in 2021 and Sweden in October 2021, and has scored 12 goals.

Allograft transfer

Dr. Leonard said she had suffered a complete anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in the left knee and required a ligament transplant. He decided to do a BTB (bone-tendon-bone) graft, a gold standard for any sportsperson. He had the choice of doing an autograft from the patient or an allograft, meaning drawing tissue from another person. “An autograft, particularly in a petite sportsperson like Mariammal, could compromise her high level performance. An allograft has a high re-rupture rate. Hence, I opted for a live allograft transplant,” he said.

He relied on his training from the North Sydney Sports Medicine Centre, Australia. “The best graft is BTB which seldom undergoes laxity. In case of a living donor, allograft transfer can be taken only from the father or the mother,” Dr. Leonard said.

On Friday, in a two-hour laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Leonard removed a small portion of ligament from Mr. Balamurugan’s right knee and transplanted it in Mariammal. The surgery was done under epidural anaesthesia for both of them. “Once the wound heals we will strengthen her knee and put her on rehabilitation. We will allow the graft to mature and in six months she will return to play the sport,” Dr. Leonard said.

Apoorva, Secretary for Sports and Youth Affairs, said: “Mariammal will be a good example as many times, a player’s career could come to an end due to such ligament injuries.” The doctor’s expertise and this particular surgery could help other players who suffer such injuries, she added.


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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 5:37:51 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/indian-womens-football-player-undergoes-ligament-transplant-at-govt-hospital-in-chennai/article65537218.ece