Cabrini surgeons perform operations to return indigenous athletes to sport

Date: 11/02/2020

Cabrini orthopaedic surgeons, Mr Scott Tulloch and Mr Daevyd Rodda, are making a difference to the lives of young indigenous athletes by providing the surgery they need to return to the sporting field.

Unfortunately, a sporting injury, such as an anterior cruciate ligament rupture of the knee, during adolescence, can significantly impact a promising sporting career, particularly if the athlete doesn’t have private health insurance or is unable to access timely specialist medical care.

As part of Cabrini’s mission to provide high-quality, accessible care for all, Cabrini has partnered with the Sporting Chance Foundation to cover the costs associated with the hospital stay to accommodate operations for two Sporting Chance recipients.

The Sporting Chance Foundation helps aspiring young indigenous athletes to fulfil their sporting dreams following a significant musculoskeletal injury by helping to provide access to the necessary surgery to get them back to their sport. The surgeons, Mr Scott Tulloch and Mr Daevyd Rodda, will perform the surgeries pro bono, and anaesthetist David Brewster will also provide his services pro bono. Travel, accommodation and rehabilitation following the surgeries will be covered by the Sporting Chance Foundation.

Two young indigenous female rugby players from Queensland, 16-year-old Genesis Ngeru and 14-year-old Stevie Smith, will receive anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery at Cabrini to get them back on their feet.

Mr Tulloch said he became involved in the program because he saw immense value in helping young athletes, in the prime of their career, return to the sporting field.

“ACL injuries are most commonly caused by accidents in Australian Rules football, rugby, netball or soccer, really any sport that involves pivoting motions puts you at risk,” he said.

“It is nearly impossible for players to return to these sports without having knee reconstructive surgery. ACL rupture is an injury that doesn’t heal on its own. After the surgery, patients will need to undergo extensive physiotherapy and a 12-month rehabilitation program to return to the rugby field.”

“This surgery allows these young athletes to get back to the sport they love and hopefully fulfil their sporting dreams. For young athletes in their prime, being sidelined from their chosen sport can not only affect them physically, but it can also take an enormous toll on their mental health.”

Genesis said rugby was her life and she couldn’t wait to get back to it.

“I love it with a passion, it’s quick, it’s aggressive and it’s a good way to show who I am,” she said.

“Watching on the sidelines has been tough, every time I watch I get itchy feet, I just want to get back out there and play again.”

Genesis also said she wanted to continue playing rugby and hopefully make a career of playing professionally.

“I would love to play for an indigenous team in Australia or New Zealand. I want to be an inspiration to other young girls who want to play sport at a professional level. It is vital for me to continue sport. I am so happy to be able to have this surgery so I can get back to playing the sport I love,” she said.

Stevie said she was looking forward to having the surgery so she could get back to playing rugby.

“Playing rugby makes me happy, it has been hard to watch since I have been injured but I still go along to every game to support my team,” she said.

“If it wasn’t for Cabrini and the Sporting Chance Foundation, I wouldn’t be able to afford to have the surgery done and I wouldn’t be able to play rugby again, so I am just incredibly thankful to have this opportunity.”

“I’d love to play professionally, so I hope this surgery will allow me to get back to playing rugby. Hopefully, I can pursue my sporting dreams.”

Mr Tulloch said he was hopeful the surgeries would return the athletes to their full pre-injury function.

“Outcomes from this type of surgery are usually very good and it will be personally rewarding for me to see these athletes return to the rugby field,” he said.

“Knee reconstructive surgery is my passion and to be able to use my specialist training to help indigenous young athletes is a way for me to give back to the broader Australian community.”

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