It was nearly devastating for a Hampton Roads collegiate athlete

An injury during a game his junior year at Christopher Newport University nearly sidelined star player Aaron McFarland’s basketball success. McFarland still played every game that season but felt sharp pain with nearly every step he took, losing speed and vertical height when attempting to jump.

McFarland had damaged cartilage in his big toe after an awkward landing, resulting in permanent damage to the great toe joint. He thought his basketball playing days were over. Unwilling to accept that future, he took action.

McFarland went to see Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Michael A. Campbell, MD. “Typically, fusion is the solution to end arthritic foot joint pain due to a cartilage injury,” said Dr. Campbell. “But since fusion limits mobility, it was not the best solution for Aaron or any of my athletic patients.”

Instead, Dr. Campbell used Cartiva, the first FDA synthetic cartilage transplant, in McFarland’s big toe. “To my knowledge this was the first, high-level athlete that had this done,” said Dr. Campbell. The surgery took 15 minutes and McFarland was walking the same day. He was back up to speed and playing basketball in just two months.

“I felt like I had a whole new foot and I was just ready to go,” said McFarland. McFarland went on to be selected as a first team All-American player by the National Association of Basketball Coaches following his Cartiva treatment. McFarland, now a graduate of Christopher Newport University, will pursue a career playing basketball professionally and coaching college basketball.

Watch highlights from Aaron McFarland’s senior year playing. Learn more about Dr. Michael A. Campbell