As a child, Dr. Donovan Johnson and his brothers found a photograph in a family photo album of a small, frail newborn. His brothers were laughing and asking who it was. Dr. Johnson’s mother said about the 1 pound 7 ounce baby, “Donovan, that was you. The doctors at Birmingham Children’s Hospital at the time, they did all they could, and they saved you.” That moment may have been what changed his life. “Since then, I wanted to be someone who can help. Someone who can be there at the worst time. For me, medicine was the choice,” he said.
Growing up as one of six boys in the family in northeast Alabama, he explained with a laugh, “A lot of sports, a lot of fun, a lot of injuries, a lot of hospital visits.” Looking at him today, you’d never know Dr. Johnson weighed less than a pound and a half at birth. He played college football as a linebacker and defensive end at the University of Arkansas and Eastern Illinois University. He went on to medical school at Georgetown University. When looking for a specialty, he says orthopaedics made sense. “As humans we are mobile, we like to move, we like to do fun things, and it’s hard to do those things if you have joints and bones that don’t work too well. For me, mobility is everything. Orthopaedics is a way to help those people who may have some issues or injuries to get them back.” He says he still remembers one patient during his residency whose number one goal was to get back into her garden. “That was the one thing she had left. She had really bad arthritis in all major joints, and we were able to get her back out there.”
While he is a surgeon who performs joint replacements for shoulders and knees, as a sports medicine specialist, he does also focus on non-operative management and treatments of injuries. “You can see someone at their worst time and then form a plan with them as a team. I tell every patient, ‘You’re the boss in this, let me know what you want to do.’ But I give them my recommendations and to be able to see those people be able to make those gains to get back to the basic quality of life, that’s rewarding.”
When he’s not at work, you may find him by his BBQ smoker. He used to cook the food for the residency program events at Tulane. He and his wife love the outdoors, hiking and the beach, and moving to this area with their small daughter was the perfect fit. When looking for a job, he says they wanted to find somewhere in the Carolinas, as she is originally from North Carolina. He knew early on that CMC Orthopaedics was where he wanted to be. “I interviewed at multiple places from private practice to hospitals to academics, and Conway Medical Center had a dream of building a world-renowned state-of-the-art orthopaedic department. And meeting the team members here, you had the vision of what is needed for this community, which is excellent orthopaedic care. For me to be able to come into a place and help build something that’s going to be here for a while is what I wanted to do. All the pieces of the puzzle lined up. I knew within ten minutes of talking to those guys that I had to be here.”
You can contact CMC Orthopaedics at (843) 347-8041.
Dr. Johnson is a board-eligible orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee. He also has advanced training in orthopaedic trauma and fracture care and joint replacement surgery. He focuses on the prevention and treatment of orthopaedic conditions affecting patients of all ages. Dr. Johnson has specific interests in treating ligament, tendon and cartilage injuries of the shoulder, hip, and knee. Dr. Johnson has additional training in treating complex disorders of the hip which includes non-surgical and surgical treatment of femoroacetabular impingement, hip preservation and extra-articular tendon injuries involving the hip.