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Festus Ezeli Will Have Season-Ending Knee Surgery Involving A Cadaver Donor [UPDATED]

Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/AP

It’s been reported for months that Festus Ezeli would need season-ending knee surgery, but until yesterday, no date had been set or details announced. Now, the situation and timeline are clearer—Ezeli will undergo a procedure requiring a cadaver donor, and he’s spent the last several months waiting to find one who would be a match for his 6-foot-11 frame.

Chris Haynes of ESPN originally reported that the Portland Trail Blazers center would be the first publicly-documented example of an NBA player undergoing surgery involving a cadaver donor. ESPN has since removed this piece of information from their report and issued a correction, saying that other athletes have had similar surgeries.


Haynes notes that Ezeli’s procedure will be particularly similar to the one that quarterback Carson Palmer had after tearing both his ACL and MCL in 2006. Palmer received a ligament from a woman killed by a drunk driver and was back on the field five months after surgery. It is not clear how long Ezeli’s recovery might take, but it reportedly could be up to one year for the big man, who has needed surgery on both knees since making his NBA debut in 2012.

Ezeli signed a two-year contract with Portland this summer but has not yet been able to play in a game for the team. He will have the surgery next week, and this will be the second full season in his career that he has missed due to knee trouble.

Update, 12:35 p.m.: This story originally had the headline “Festus Ezeli Will Be The First NBA Player To Have Surgery Involving A Cadaver Donor,” based off information in ESPN’s original report. ESPN has since issued a correction, noting that their prior statement that Ezeli will be the first NBA player to use tissue from a cadaver donor in a surgical procedure was not true, but they have not offered further details. 

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