Patient Advocate: Darvina Heichemer

Darvina Heichemer

Patient Advocate

As a Director of Surgical Services, Darvina Heichemer knows the importance of creating an implant to fit each patient. After her athletic background and 45+ year nursing career led to extremely debilitating knee pain, she sought treatment from her surgeon, Dr. Gary Levengood of Sports Medicine South in Atlanta Georgia. Darvina has since experienced total knee replacement recovery.

Q: When did you have your surgery?

A: I’ve had two Conformis knee replacements, the most recent one in March 2016.

Q: What were your knees like before surgery?

A: Well, as a kid you’re always running around screaming, having a great time and then you choose some sports. I was a softball catcher. Then I was a downhill skier. Then I was a cheerleader in high school and any activity that was out there I always wanted to do it. So you’re running, jumping, having a great time. Later I became an operating room nurse and spent long days standing on a hard floor.
What happened in my journey was that I had to hang back. I couldn’t do things that my family was doing, my friends were doing because of the pain.

Q: What made you decide to choose Conformis?

A: I’ve been in an operating room for approximately 45 years. So I’ve had an opportunity to see all surgical procedures, surgical implants and to make an informed decision for myself for what I wanted to choose for my knees. I’ve seen off-the-shelf implants, which are one-size-fits-all, and regardless of how your anatomy and how you’re made, they have to make that individual fit into that implant. If you have a Conformis implant, it’s specific to your unique bone shape and size. When the surgeon performs the operation, it’s done so the implant fits you precisely.

Q: What was recovery like?

A: Within about seven months of my surgey, I was able to walk miles. I’m on the golf course, I’m in the operating room… people say to me, “You’re standing tall again. You’re not bent over. You’re not sitting on a chair. Your life is active.” That’s what I wanted to get back.


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