Frank Alvine was born in 1938 at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls to Paul and Gertrude Alvine. He was raised in Sioux Falls with his four siblings and graduated from Washington High School in 1957. He earned his BS and an associate degree in medicine at USD, completed his MD at the University of WA, and then entered the US Navy where he completed his internship at the US Naval Base in Oakland CA. After completing his orthopedic residency at the University of Washington in Seattle, he returned to private practice in Sioux Falls in July of 1972 where he joined Drs. Geibink, Gross and Nice to form Orthopedic Associates, which is today Orthopaedic Consultants and Alvine Foot and Ankle Center. Dr Frank Alvine retired in June of 2007.
Frank married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Hough of Sioux Falls in June of 1962. He and Marilyn have three children; twins, Cynthia and Gregory, who were born in 1965 in Oakland CA and Grant who was born in Seattle in 1966 while they were in the Navy. Frank and Marilyn have nine grandchildren and recently celebrated 47 years of marriage.Discipline and hard work are words that Frank knows well. His thoughts on this are reflected in one of his favorite mottos.
“The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
He worked in high school at Sunshine Foods and later at Morrell’s during the summers while he attended college in Vermillion.
Status Quo was never the norm or comfortable for Dr. Alvine. After entering private practice he did extensive study and research on Ulnar Nerve Palsy, a condition found in some patients after they had surgery. This situation created many lawsuits over the years. By his study, he proved that this condition was not caused by any malpractice but rather a predisposition in the patient. He has served as a national expert witness in several cases and as a result this legal action nationwide has ceased.
During his medical career, he discovered there was no good solution to offer his patients who presented with complex orthopedic foot and ankle problems. His frustration with the inability to offer help led to his design and development of the Agility Total Ankle Replacement System. He was granted a patent in 1986 and a revision patent in 1992. On January 6, 1993 Dr Alvine was notified that the Agility Ankle received FDA acceptance for national distribution and use. Until just recently it remained the only FDA approved ankle. Dr. Alvine spent endless hours working with his patients and studying to first design his ankle and then to go on to improve the design. He swam against the current of popular opinion (many orthopedic surgeons did not consider ankle replacement to be the best option) and persevered to help thousands of patients who before had only one option, that of fusing their ankle. He has personally performed over 1500 replacements and has assisted with countless others. Dr Frank Alvine has instructed hundreds of orthopedic surgeons across the globe in ankle replacement surgery. His work has taken him to several foreign countries to instruct international surgeons. His work truly revolutionized the world’s orthopedic community and their thoughts on ankle replacement options. Though retired, Dr. Alvine continues his interest in the ankle and in improving the design.
His kind manner and general concern for his patients has prompted countless cards and letters, here is just a sampling:
Robin writes: Thank you for your willingness to be innovative, your honesty about what is realistic, your humility to stick your surgical hands out and take a chance and your kindness and dignity to me. May God richly bless you and your work always.
Barbara writes: How can I ever thank you enough for helping me through one of the most physically and emotionally challenging periods of my life. I came to you with a "failed right ankle replacement compounded by a health insurance nightmare. You stepped forward with compassion and a kindness beyond words and agreed to help me out.
Darrell writes: I thought I would write and thank you again for saving my life. It has been one year ago this week, that i was up there. I know where it is headed if you hadn't helped me. This stupid NE farmer thanks God every night for what you and Sue did for me.
Michael writes: I exercise at least an hour a day now. I function beyond my deepest expectations. Moreover, I walk without limping and without pain. Thank you! Thank you! For the expertise, the art and the caring you brought to my surgery.
Dr. Frank Alvine managed a balance of work and family time. His hobbies generally include his children and grandchildren. Ask any one of them and they will be able to tell you a story of one of the many “Alvine family vacations”. He delights in teaching life skills. Frank has been a private pilot for the past 30 years. He has become an accomplished instrument rated and multiengine pilot. He has a passion for restoring old cars and does much of the work himself. In his spare time, he enjoys fishing, hunting and especially spending time with his children and grandchildren. He is a long-time member of First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls.
He is an avid conservationist and practices conservation farming at his farm in Madison. He has earned awards both locally and regionally from the Issaac Walton Leagues and from Ducks Unlimited for his conservation work.
Today you might find Dr. Alvine at the local coffee shop. Frank loves to share a cup of decaf and a doughnut with his many friends. He always has a great story or a proverb or two to tell anyone who spends time with him. Even though his work has earned him international acclaim, his heart remains with South Dakota and its people.
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