Amy, Christian and Damian Ratzlaff have endured a long journey on the way to getting Christian’s left knee back to health.
It appears one Hillsboro High School student-athlete will have a senior basketball season after all, thanks to an innovative surgical procedure to restore his dying knee.
“I feel my senior year will be great, and I’ll be ready to go because I have time to prepare for it,” said Christian Ratzlaff, who was forced to sit out his junior season this winter. “After that, I’d love to keep playing. It’s nice that I have that option now.”
As recently as a couple of months ago, that prospect seemed unlikely. Not only was Christian’s high school athletic career in jeopardy, but he was facing the possibility of a future without pursuing the physical activities he loves—and even worse.
“They were telling us he would be hoping just to walk right again,” his father, Damian, said about the speculation of one specialist. “It was like nothing will be the same if (the knee) gets to that degree.”
The culprit was Osteochondritis dissecans, or OCD, a joint disease that resulted in a loss of blood flow to the lower tip of Christian’s femur, near the knee, which in turn caused that part of the bone to die.
“When bone dies, cartilage doesn’t want to be attached anymore,” said Amy, his mother. “So the cartilage starts to detach itself because there’s no (blood) source for it.”