Britney’s Story: Knee surgery, times-two, and still at it

Britney may have only been 17 at the time, but she was a devoted athlete who knew her body. When her knee began to bother her in her junior year of high school, she knew something was wrong. She went to several doctors in the Sacramento area, and all of them told her, “Nothing’s wrong.” But Britney, a competitive soccer and basketball player, wasn’t one to give up so easily. Through family, she was referred to Dr. Mark F. Mooney of Twin Cities Community Hospital.

“He took one look and knew what was wrong,” Britney recalls. Her knee-cap had moved in and out of place, and was now rubbing against the cartilage. They scheduled a knee surgery, and just three months after the surgery, she was playing water polo.

“Dr. Mooney recommended that I stop playing sports that were hard on my knees, so I stopped soccer and switched to water sports.” One of the things Britney appreciates most about Dr. Mooney is that he understood how important sports were to her. Even after surgery, it wasn’t something she would give up.

Back in the game, and the operating room

Four years later during an intramural soccer game—that she admits she probably shouldn’t have been playing—her love of sports as well as her knee joints, was tested again. Coming down from a header, she dislocated her knee in an incredibly painful injury: an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the medial meniscus. At the time, Britney was a Division 1 rower at Santa Clara University, and the sports medicine team read her MRI and wanted her to see the team orthopedist. But Britney wanted to see Dr. Mooney.

“I didn’t doubt the skill of the recommended doctor, but I wanted to go where I felt comfortable,” Britney recalls. “I knew [Dr. Mooney] would be sensitive to the impact the injury would have on my rowing season.”

In June, Dr. Mooney performed Britney’s second knee surgery, using a hamstring autograft—muscle grafted from the patient’s own body, a preferred choice for young, active patients—to repair Britney’s injured knee. She worked hard at rehab, needing to condition both her knee and the new hamstring muscle. Despite all her setbacks, she started the rowing season with her team in September and finished the year in a varsity boat.

Understanding what matters to athletes

Britney is grateful for the new life Dr. Mooney has given to her knees, and for the ability to continue to do what she loves, “He really understands how important the recovery is for athletes.”

Have two knee surgeries slowed Britney down? “Well, now I play intramural softball, very carefully,” she says, “I use a knee brace and a base runner, just in case.” But if anything ever happens, she’ll know who to call.