News and Events

Rambam First: Successful Meniscus Transplant in Israeli Soldier

Publication Date: 2/5/2018

​​​In the first surgery of its kind at Rambam Health Care Campus, surgeons successfully transplanted the meniscus of a deceased donor into the knee of a young Israeli soldier.

​Dr. Sachs and Dr. Bezalel performing the
meniscus transplant on the young soldier.
Photo credit: RHCC​Dr. Sachs and Dr. Bezalel performing the meniscus transplant on the young soldier. Photo credit: RHCC

Ben Goldenfarb (21) suffered from a torn meniscus in his knee. His condition deteriorated during his tank commanders' training course, causing intense pain and severely limiting his mobility. In the first surgery of its kind at Rambam, surgeons successfully transplanted a meniscus cartilage from a deceased donor into the knee of the young soldier.
The meniscus is a thin fibrous cartilage, which acts as a "shock absorber" for the knee. Injury to the meniscus is likely to result in friction of the joints, severe pain, and limited movement. When more conservative treatments such as rest and physiotherapy are ineffective, arthroscopic surgery may be an option. In severe cases, it may be necessary to surgically replace the knee joint.

Ben was born with an abnormally thick meniscus and during fitness training in his tank commanders' course, the condition of his meniscus deteriorated further. He suffered debilitating pain, impaired mobility, and underwent two knee surgeries—neither of which resolved the problem.

"A young man in his early 20's without a meniscus will rapidly experience a reduction in his quality of life," explained Dr. Ofer Sachs, Senior Physician at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery of Rambam, who performed the surgery with Dr. Bezalel Peskin, Director of Rambam’s Knee and Arthroscopy Unit. Dr. Sachs added, "The young man's meniscus was totally shredded; he was already showing early signs of bone damage. He suffered from pain, swelling, and was unable to exercise. He urgently needed an intervention to help him with the next twenty years of his life. In the past nothing could be done in such situations except for physiotherapy, with knee replacement surgery later in life. A knee replacement is an excellent solution for older people. However, we try to delay such procedures for as long as possible in young people since knee replacements erode over time. The transplant of the meniscus from the human tissue bank is well suited for young people with severe damage to the meniscus."

The surgery lasted about four hours using sterilized meniscus tissue obtained from an international human tissue bank. The surgeons fit the meniscus to the young soldier's joint and fixed it in place so that it would be stable and suitable for the movement of the knee.

Rambam’s Orthopedic Surgery Section is one of the leading orthopedic departments in Israel, providing state-of-the-art services for all orthopedic conditions. The Section has particular expertise in treating combat injuries, having cared for most of the soldiers injured in military conflicts in recent years. Rambam has established a “Special Operations Clinic” that provides soldiers from Israel's elite combat units with superb care, including immediate consultation with specialists, prioritized surgery, and the most advanced treatment modalities. Rambam strives to provide the best possible medical care for those who are injured while dedicating their lives for the security of the State of Israel.