Dr. James Andrews is one of the most respected and well known orthopedic surgeons around. He has operated on many athletes over the past 35 years and is the guy many people trust to extend their careers.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many athletes are getting various surgeries done during the downtime. Pitchers such as Luis Severino, Chris Sale, and Noah Syndergaard have been getting Tommy John surgery and while it makes sense for pitchers to get this career-saving surgery done now, it isn’t exactly a life-saving surgery and there’s a debate on whether or not these surgeries are reducing medical resources that’s needed elsewhere.
According to the Boston Globe, Dr. Andrews has decided to suspend performing Tommy John surgery, given it’s an elective or non-essential operation in the wake of COVID-19.
One reason there isn’t a widespread ban is the debate on what is or isn’t essential. Just like trying to decide what businesses should remain open or closed, medical procedures are the same way. Tommy John surgery isn’t really a matter of life and death but to the athlete who needs it, they not only need it to continue their career but they’re probably hurting very badly. If I had ligament damage in my elbow and was in massive pain all the time, I probably wouldn’t want to hear that my surgery is considered “non-essential” even though deep down, I knew it was.
It’s important to note that neither Severino, Sale, or Syndergaard were operated on by Dr. Andrews. So despite Dr. Andrews’ decision, there are other surgeons who athletes have gone to for this surgery. Even so, Dr. Andrews is one of the top Tommy John surgeons around so his decision to temporarily stop doing them will be noticeable throughout the sport and may result in others to join him.
[Boston Globe/Photo: AP]