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Former patient speaks out after complaints surface regarding Jacksonville surgeon

A former patient is speaking out about a knee surgery he says left him with pain and a permanent injury.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A former patient is speaking out about a knee surgery he says left him with pain and a permanent injury. 

Raymond Frez is one of hundreds of former patients suing local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Heekin, Heekin Clinic, and the St. Vincent Medical Center where he worked.

“I went there with a lot of pain," Frez said.

Frez turned to Jacksonville orthopedic surgeon Dr. Heekin in 2018 for knee-replacement surgery

"I went to doctor Heekin, so he could make my quality of life better," said Frez.

But after the surgery, Frez says it was clear something was wrong.

"My knee would buckle backwards, so I would almost fall, and that's pretty hazardous with the line of work I'm in to have an unstable knee," he said. “I work around rotating propellers, I can't have that. I can't have that for my safety and for my welfare, and my quality of life.”

After continued pain and limited mobility, Frez sought out a different doctor.

"So I went to another surgeon, they did the X-rays, and they evaluated my, my first procedure. And they said, 'No, we had to take that knee completely out'. The knee was not placed in there properly, or that it's a wrong size is what I was told by the second surgeon," said Frez.

Now Frez is one of hundreds of former patients suing Dr. Heekin, his clinic, and the St Vincent’s Medical Center where he worked from 2000 to 2020. 

Attorneys say the doctor made hundreds of medical errors due to a degenerative neurological condition which they claim the hospital knew about. One complication cost a patient her life.

"He was kind of shaky, he had slurred speech," said Frez.

After a second knee replacement with metal rods to provide additional support Frez’s knee doesn’t buckle anymore, but he says he still has pain.

“I still have this intense pain because now they had to bore out the bones to put those rods in there, which I didn't have to do that if Dr. Heekin and St. Vincent had done the proper procedure to begin with," said Frez.

Frez says it’s going to affect him for the rest of his life

"I'm scared that my profession is going to be jeopardized in the future as I'm not going to be able to perform my duties the way I used to and it all started with St Vincent allowing Dr. Heekin to operate on me," said Frez. 

Attorneys for Ascension St. Vincent's declined to comment. 

However, in court filings, they deny the allegations, and say if any negligence occurred it is the sole responsibility of Dr. Heekin and his clinic. 

The hospital has also filed motions to dismiss several cases and called some of the allegations quote 'immaterial, scandalous and irrelevant.'"

Dr. Heekin's attorney has not responded to a request for comment.

RELATED: Report: Hospital ignored complaints about Jacksonville surgeon, 350 lawsuits filed

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