Tissue Transplants: Changing Lives and Improving Mobility
Prevention & Treatment Miren Ivankovic’s active lifestyle was prematurely put on hold by pain—until a bone grafting from donor tissue repaired his injuries.
Miren Ivankovic always loved tennis, and used to run 70 to 80 miles a week. But a genetic predisposition to arthritis left his hips hurting.
“I was becoming very limited,” says Ivankovic, a married father of four, who is almost 50. “I was deteriorating rapidly.”
He had hip resurfacing on both hips when he was in his mid-30’s but in time, the pain returned. His right hip developed a protrusion, creating a hole in his pelvis. That meant his right leg was four inches shorter than the left.
About eight years ago, Ivankovic had a total hip replacement. Doctors at Midlands Orthopedics in Columbia, S.C. also used donated bone grafting to repair his pelvis. Without the gift of donated bone, Ivankovic’s pelvis would have likely been repaired with metal plates, with questionable success.
“'If you didn’t know my story, you wouldn’t know I had a hip replacement."
“If another human donates bone, that bone can be used to repair somebody else’s bone and it turns out to be the best material out there possible,” says the Croatian native, who is also an economics professor at Anderson University and a visiting professor at Clemson. “My pelvis grew into that bone much faster and more efficient.”
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The procedures worked and Ivankovic is once again very active. “If you didn’t know my story, you wouldn’t know I had a hip replacement,” he says, citing cycling, as well as some tennis and swimming now make up his routine.
He’s had competitive success too. In the 2014 Donate Life Transplant Games of America, he won six gold medals for running, cycling and track and field, as well as a silver medal for swimming.
Ivankovic will share his success story and advocate for organ, eye and tissue donation when he rides the Donate Life Rose Parade Float on January 1, 2016 in Pasadena, California.
He’s especially grateful to the family who donated their loved one’s tissue. “I would like to meet them,” he says. “It’s a very special person who does that. It’s a non-selfish, brave person.”
He urges others to become tissue, organ and eye donors too: “It can make a difference in someone’s life.”