EXCLUSIVE: Farmington teen trailblazes brand new ACL procedure in Connecticut

A teenager from Farmington made medical history.
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:17 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A teenager from Farmington made medical history.

Fifteen-year-old Luna Martini’s story began like a disaster movie.

She spoke exclusively to Channel 3 about it.

Luna fell hard while skiing with her brother at Ski Sundown.

As medics slid her off the mountain, Luna said she was overcome with emotion.

“I got a little worked up because I was like ‘oh God. I’m gonna have to get surgery now,’” she said.

She was right.

“You can see there is kind of a tear right in the middle there,” she explained while showing the x-rays.

Last month, tests confirmed Luna tore the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in her right knee.

However, her story is not about a victim. It’s about a trailblazer.

“This actually has been a pretty fascinating experience because I’m getting to see a bit more of the medical world firsthand and learn a bit more,” Luna said.

Luna, a freshman at Farmington High School, wants to become a doctor herself one day. She said she did plenty of research and decided the best option to fix her knee was a procedure that has never been done in Connecticut.

“It’s definitely exciting,” she said.

Doctor Allison Crepeau is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. She’s also a bit of a pioneer.

She’s one of the very few doctors in the country who has trained extensively on a new anterior cruciate ligament procedure known as a “BEAR” implant, which stands for Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration.

“The BEAR implant is completely different in that we actually are able to get the ACL to heal itself,” Crepeau explained.

The BEAR is a special collagen implant that is inserted arthroscopically, so it’s less invasive than traditional ACL surgery. Instead of replacing the anterior cruciate ligament, the BEAR implant allows it to regrow.

“It’s certainly not going to be the right answer for everybody, but it’s a great thing to be able to offer to patients,” Crepeau said.

Luna was a perfect candidate for the BEAR procedure. The surgery is so new that it’s never been performed in Connecticut until now.

Moments before the surgery, Luna admitted that she was a little nervous, but she relied on her faith and family for strength.

“It’s just a lot that I know that I’m going to have to conquer, but I have faith that I’ll do it,” she said.

After quick hugs from mom Jessica and dad Diego, she set off to make Connecticut medical history.

Inside the operating room, Crepeau’s expertise shined and about 2 hours later, she called the surgery a success.

“It went very smoothly,” Crepeau said. “Everything is good. So, yeah it’s exciting.”

Back in the post op room, Luna woke up and smiled.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said. “It honestly just felt like a nap. “I woke up thinking it was just a dream or something.”

However, it wasn’t a dream, and she can prove it.

“They even gave me a bear to go along with the procedure because I was the first person to get the BEAR implant,” Luna said.

Luna plans to name the bear Allison after Dr. Crepeau. After all, together they turned a disaster movie into a story about two trailblazers.

“I think it’s really cool to make any sort of even minor impact in the medical community at such a young age,” Luna said.

Luna is already resting at home.

She said she starts physical therapy next week and if everything goes smoothly, she’ll be able to ditch her crutches in about a month.