Brother and sister Gonzalo and Christina Chavez share more than a family connection. They both love soccer and play competitively, both tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in their knee in fall 2019 and both thank orthopaedics and sports medicine specialists at Wake Forest Baptist Health for getting them back on the field.
“We are a soccer family,” says Christina, now 17 and back playing at East Surry High School, where Gonzalo, now 18, also played. “Soccer has been a part of our lives for as long we can remember. Growing up we heard about athletes getting injured, and when it happened to us, it was heartbreaking.”
The Chavez siblings tore their ACLs just a few months apart. First, Gonzalo hurt his knee in September during an informal pick-up soccer game. Although there was swelling, the injury wasn’t particularly painful. He had seen orthopaedic doctors near the family’s home, but he wanted to see doctors who specialize in sports medicine at Wake Forest Baptist.
Gonzalo didn’t realize he had torn a ligament until he had his knee evaluated by Wake Forest Baptist orthopaedics and sports medicine specialist Dr. Brian Waterman.
“I had gotten used to the pain, but I couldn’t run or do any really hard physical movement because it was so unstable,” Gonzalo says. “I was shocked when my mom told me I was going to need surgery because the pain wasn’t that bad, but I knew I had to take care of it to play again. Meeting with Dr. Waterman before the surgery and having him explain everything was very reassuring, and I wasn’t worried about anything.”
A few months later, Christina injured her knee during a game, and she knew right away it was serious. It was her second knee injury and a re-rupture of her ACL after an ACL reconstruction that had been done by an outside surgeon years ago.
Because Christina’s injury was so complex, Dr. Waterman performed a two-stage revision surgery and an additional stabilization procedure to reconstruct her ACL, restore knee function and decrease risk of re-injury. Dr. Waterman and the orthopaedic and sports medicine team are among an elite group of international medical centers providing and studying these procedures.
“As a former Elon soccer player and now team doctor for men’s and women’s soccer at Wake Forest University, I understand the nature of athletes and their injuries, and am able to provide the right specialized care to get athletes like Gonzalo and Christina back to playing again,” Dr. Waterman says.
"After meeting with Dr. Waterman, we weren’t worried about the injuries, and everything from the surgery to physical therapy has been great,” Christina says.
While Christina is looking forward to spring soccer season at East Surry and Gonzalo is now in college in Charlotte, both are grateful to be playing again.
“Our experience has been truly amazing,” says their mother, Yadira. “They’ve helped our whole family stay active.”