New ACL procedure saves football player’s future as a Mountaineer


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Donavin Davis was a leading scorer and huge playmaker for the South Charleston Black Eagles.

The 2020 season was his last season dressing in orange and black, and it had an unexpected ending.

“My last game, the Princeton game, I went to catch the ball and my leg just popped,” said Davis. “When I first heard it I was just hoping my football career wasn’t over.”

He was hit with the hard news – that he was facing one of the scariest injuries in sports.

“I thought there was gonna be no chance…to be honest,” he said. “I never doubt myself but ACL is one of those injuries where I’ve heard so much bad stuff about it.”

This injury was especially concerning for Davis, as he is committed to play football for the Mountaineers this fall.

But, that fear disappeared after a visit with former WVU football player, Dr. Chad Lavender.

“I had friends and teammates that went through the struggle of ACL reconstruction,” said Dr. Lavender. “So it fueled my passion 20 years later, at Marshall with what we’re doing.”

Dr. Lavender has developed a new procedure for ACL reconstruction.

“With our ACL reconstruction, we take stem cells from the patient and we mix that into a bone graft solution that goes into the femur and shin bone before the ACL gets placed,” said Dr. Lavender. “And we also add an internal brace. So we’re adding that stability of the brace, with the biological healing of the mixture we’re putting in the bio composite graft.”

And his procedure works.

Just over a month after surgery, Davis was back on the field running a 4.7 second forty; just five weeks after surgery.

And he is only one of more than 150 athletes Dr. Lavender has rehabbed.

Lavender says the best part of the process – is the relationships he’s formed with these athletes.

“I mean we see them for two years in the clinical trial,” he said. “So for two years, there’s a constant communication. Anything that changes in their life, anything that is a concern, they obviously let us know. So we really build a close bond with all of these patients which has been a special thing for us.”

So how does Donavin feel now? As he’s heading up to Morgantown in less than a month?

“I’m excited,” Davis said. “I’m really excited. I feel 100%. I know I’m 100%. And I’m just ready to get down there and play. I’m anxious!”

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