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Published on July 14, 2021

UNC Lenoir Orthopedic Surgeon Brings New Procedure to Kinston

Dr. Dimitri Thomas, orthopedic sports surgeon, recently completed the first knee cartilage transplant in the history of UNC Lenoir Health Care.  “Cartilage is a tissue that does not heal itself.  Once it is damaged it can cause significant pain and disability,” Dr. Thomas explained.   Dr. Thomas’ recent patient had a known cartilage defect in the knee cap.  The patient had had several knee procedures prior to seeing him without success.  After recovery and rehabilitation, the patient will see significant improvement in quality of life. 

Cartilage transplantation is not a common procedure. Dr. Thomas completed the OCA (osteochondral allograft transplant) with cadaver tissue.  The OCA takes mature cartilage and bone from a recently deceased donor and transfers it to the recipient.  The patient’s own bone marrow is added to the cadaver bone to trick the body into thinking it is the patient’s own tissue.  Dr. Thomas has done 30 transplants on this own and completed many more during his orthopedic sports surgery fellowship.  He is also a contributing author to the Cartilage Algorithm that was just published in Cartilage Journal, a highly respected publication in the orthopedic field.  His co-authors include prominent cartilage surgeons at Stanford Hospital for Special Surgery and Harvard University Medical Center.  The ultimate goal of this procedure is to delay the need for knee replacement by years.  “Knee preservation is my favorite thing to do in the in the operating room,” remarked Dr. Thomas.

Dr. Dimitri Thomas is part of the team at UNC Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at Lenoir.  He attended medical school at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, his residency at William Beaumont Armey Medical Center and is a former US Army Major.  After 13 years of military service, he completed his sports medicine fellowship at University of Missouri.  Dr. Thomas’ special interests include sports medicine, cartilage restoration, bone realignment, and ligament injuries.  Dr. Thomas resides in Kinston and enjoys spending time with his wife, Sherrie and their dogs.

We are excited to offer this advanced procedure to our community”, said Robert Enders, President and CEO of UNC Lenoir Health Care.  “This addition to our surgical services further demonstrates our commitment to provide the region with outstanding healthcare.  We are fortunate to have a surgeon of Dr. Thomas’ caliber.”