Here's what I know about my surgery. The surgery is out-patient. I will not be staying overnight. I'll be given a spinal block which means I will be awake during my surgery and able to watch it on a monitor. Dr. Sherman says it won't feel like I'm watching my own leg be operated on. I'm pretty sure I will watch it but reserve the right to wimp out at a moment's notice.
I've chosen to use "donor tissue" aka allograft. From what I've read online the graft is bone-ligament-bone from a cadaver. It won't be someone's actual ACL. It will be tendon or ligament.
If you're younger than 40, the doc said they recommend using your own tissue. Over 40? Then they recommend an allograft because donors are typically younger than you -- you end up getting a used, but younger part. I'm not 40 but am close enough. And, besides, there is less pain if you use donor tissue because you aren't recovering from surgery and the spot where they take tendon from (knee or hamstring).
Apparently there is a risk of receiving a virus with the donor tissue. There was a story on NPR recently about this issue. I didn't hear it first hand but I'm supposed to make sure that the tissue bank my doctor uses guarantees that they provide sterilized tissues. When I spoke with the doc about this he said he's never had trouble with donor tissue except for one patient last year. The tissue bank had a scare about tissue from one donor. It just so happened my doctor used tissue from that particular donor in one of his patients. Things turned out fine for this patient and the doc assured me that that tissue bank destroyed any tissue that may have been circumspect.
So I guess the risk of the viral transmission is real. The doc said that the tissue is sterilized (via radiation) but only kills bacteria. In order to destroy viruses, the requisite radiation level would also destroy the tissue.
If I get really freaked out and change my mind about using donor tissue, I can decide at the last second to use my own tissue (patellar tendon or hamstring). As the doc said, I'll be bringing my own tissue with me if I do change my mind.
Brett will be taking the day off and will take me home from the hospital. My mom will be taking care of me for a week. A week might seem a little long, but I've never had surgery and am feeling like a big wimp. I want my mama!