Healthy Living: Operation Walk
Imagine living in a Third World country and you need a joint replaced. Chances are, it is not going to happen, but now there is a chance. Marcie Fraser has the story of how Guatemalans who may need surgery are getting the help they need.
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In the U.S., we have access to some of the best health care in the world, but other countries are not as lucky.
Antigua Guatemala is a Third World country, with Third World health care. But not for one week beginning September 22nd. That's when 40 medical professionals set up camp, looking for the people who are in the greatest need of care. It's called Operation Walk, for those who can't.
"These are patients that live with the disability and the deformity of arthritis of the hip and knees. We are going down to offer them and giving them a chance to getting their life back," said Dr. Jonathan Gainor, orthopedic surgeon.
The hospital is provided, the staff and supplies are brought in.
"From the nurses, to the therapist, to the surgeons, to the surgical staff. We set up in hospital and perform the surgeries we need to perform and then close it all down at the end of the week," said Dr. Gainor.
For the first few days, surgeons work long days replacing hips and knees.
"They have gone as far as they can go with their native joint. The joints have worn out; severe joint deformity, bone-on-bone arthritis," said Dr. Gainor.
This will be Dr. Jonathan Gainor's first time performing surgery on such a mission.
"I like having the opportunity to put my hands into what we are doing and physically change the major deformity that we see. The rewards seeing these patients get up and walk the very next day is what charges me up and keeps me going," said Dr. Gainor.
And after a week when the surgeons do return home, the patients are in good hands with doctors and surgeons within their own country.
Donations make the program possible.
"I donate my vacation time that is what I give up. I donate my portion of the trip and no I don't receive anything monetarily but of course the rewards of helping people who wouldn't have any other access to this type of care, is the biggest reward in itself,” said Dr. Gainor.
For more information, visit www.opwalkvirginia.org.