TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — One million and rising. That’s how many people are getting their joints replaced every year in this country. That doesn’t count all the people who need to have replacement surgeries, but can’t afford them. But, there’s hope for these folks thanks to a health care team donating their time and talent.
Kimberly Goff’s arthritic hip made almost any movement excruciating. Even getting in the car was challenging.
Goff told Ivanhoe, “Walking was a great chore, getting up out of bed in the morning horrible until you get the stiffness out.”
Then this came along: a new hip.
Goff said, “I’m expecting to walk and feel this pain and it’s gone, it’s just not there anymore.”
But wait, there’s more!
“I was given this life-changing surgery for absolutely free,” Goff confessed.
John Kilgore, MD, the Chief of Orthopedics at Morton Plan Hospital in Clearwater, Florida, helped give Goff her hip for nothing. It’s all part of a national program called Operation Walk USA where 43 hospitals in 19 states take part since one joint replacement can cost up to a hundred thousand dollars.
Dr. Kilgore explained, “It’s actually very complicated. It’s not as simple as saying I’ll do your surgery for free.”
First, the entire healthcare team has to agree to donate their services. Then they can help uninsured and very poor patients get the new joints they desperately need.
Dr. Kilgore explained that patients “Have to fulfill certain financial criteria. They fall into that donut hole that Medicaid Obamacare doesn’t address.”
But Goff was eligible.
Goff shared, “I needed this. My life totally changed because of this.”
Dr. Kilgore expressed to Ivanhoe, “You can always give money to charities and things like that, but it’s really nice to actually do something for somebody.”
Operation Walk USA is an independent medical humanitarian organization. Patients are candidates if they do not qualify for government assistance. Doctors usually refer patients to the program.
Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Travis Bell, Videographer.
OPERATION WALK USA
BACKGROUND: Arthritis is the medical term for joint diseases. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. These can affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, skin, and the joints. Arthritis can develop in people of all sexes, ages and ethnicities, and it’s the leading cause of disability in America. Around 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. are affected by arthritis. The common symptoms include:
- Stiffness, and
- Loss of motion
The disease may stay the same for years, or it can progress causing chronic pain and interfering with a person’s daily life. If the disease progresses and the pain is severe, a joint replacement surgery may be recommended by a specialist.
JOINT REPLACEMENT: A joint is where two or more bones come together, like in the hip, the knee, and shoulder. A joint replacement surgery may include the complete replacement of the joint, or the replacement of the damaged parts. Around 1 million joint replacements are performed each year. An estimated 4.7 million Americans have gone through a knee replacement, and 2.5 million have through a hip replacement. The prevalence of these surgeries is more common in women than in men and it’s usually performed on elderly people. The surgery allows for a better, free-pain quality of life.
(Source: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/joint_replacement/ & http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/orthopedic-surgery/study-hip-knee-arthroplasty-shows-7-2-million-americans-living-with-implants)
OPERATION WALK USA: Joint replacement surgery provides relief from pain and a better quality of life, but this surgery can cost anywhere between $60,000 and $160,000. For citizens who do not possess insurance or government assistance, this price is usually impossible to pay. Operation Walk USA is an independent medical humanitarian organization that provides free hip or knee replacement surgery to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who can’t afford the surgery. To be eligible, patients must be uninsured, 18 years old or older and at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The organization started by drawing inspiration from Operation Walk (International), where joint surgeries are provided to people in developing countries. Operation Walk USA’s mission is to encourage and enable joint replacement surgeons to restore mobility and quality of life for uninsured and underinsured patients. In order for this program to work, the entire health care team has to first agree to donate their services. Currently, there are 43 hospitals, in 19 states providing these services. For more information, visit: http://www.opwalkusa.com/physicians.html
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