WHEN Aly Taylor damaged her knee refereeing a rugby match, she faced undergoing several painful operations.
But thanks to pioneering stem cell treatment – which included growing her a new piece of knee cartilage in Denmark – she is now fighting fit.
‘It came back in one of those polystyrene limb boxes,’ said Aly, 44.
‘Then they opened my knee up and reinserted it using some sort of human glue.
‘It’s absolutely phenomenal technology they’ve used.’
Aly had damaged the cartilage behind her knee cap so badly that eventually it crumbled and disappeared.
Doctors said she would need six operations in five years, major surgery and then be on crutches for at least four months.
But thanks to advances in medicine, medics were able to harvest cells from elsewhere on her leg and send them to Copenhagen, where they regrew the cartilage.
While it might not be the last operation Aly has to have on her knee, she will be pain-free for the next 15 years.
It has also meant she has avoided having to have a knee replacement.
Surgeons will only replace a knee twice, and each replacement only lasts 10 years.
‘It would have meant that by the time I was 60 I wouldn’t be able to walk,’ she added.
But walk she can, and when her colleague Ros suggested a team from Taylor Made Computer Solutions in Fareham take part in the Shine walk last weekend, Aly jumped at the chance.
And this was no ordinary stroll – it was a gruelling 26.2 mile walk.
She said: ‘I did speak to my physio who said I would be able to do it, but not to make a habit of it.
‘So I invested in some good trainers, and my knee held up amazingly.’
The group are on target to raise around £3,500 for Cancer Research UK, which organised the night-time event.
‘I never thought five years ago that I would be able to do something like this, because I could barely walk.
‘To do something like that and raise money for charity is great, and it was a personal challenge for me as well.’
The group crossed the finish line in a time of nine hours and 11 minutes, at 3am on Sunday morning.
She said: ‘It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done, other than have a family.
‘There were points when we were all a little bit low and we pushed each other on and we got there.
‘One of my team-mates twisted her knee so we helped her along.
‘It’s not just me who injures myself and keeps going!’