Operation Walk Utah, a private, not-for-profit volunteer medical service chapter of the national Operation Walk, recently traveled to El Salvador on its sixth medical mission to provide no-cost total hip and knee replacement surgeries to patients in the most critical need. A team of 39 medical volunteers, including orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, nurses, surgical and medical assistants, and administrative supporting staff, arrived in El Salvador on November 1, 2013 and completed all surgeries and follow-up care by November 7. Sixty Salvadoran citizens were approved for surgery by the Operation Walk Utah team based on current health status and the immediate need for medical treatment.
Luis shaking the hand of an Operation Walk Utah staff member following surgery
The Operation Walk Utah team met with one Salvadoran patient named Luis. He is a middle-aged family man who owned a successful restaurant in a popular tourist spot in El Salvador. Luis was afflicted with congenital hip dysplasia, which was exasperated after sustaining a critical injury from an accident. Luis could no longer stand, walk, or work without pain and difficulty, and he eventually lost his business. Upon hearing the news that he was selected to be one of sixty patients receiving surgical treatment from Operation Walk Utah, Luis broke into tears. The medical staff surgically corrected the disproportion between Luis’ right and left leg, and, after receiving follow-up care, he left the hospital in good condition.
A look inside the operating room during one of sixty surgeries
Aaron Hofmann, M.D., board-certified orthopedic surgeon, founder of Operation Walk Utah, and director of the Center for Precision Joint Replacement at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center and Hofmann Arthritis Institute, has led the Utah volunteer medical team since 2007. All expenses of treatment, including surgery, hospitalization, and post-operative care, are covered by Operation Walk Utah’s medical staff and monetary contributions from various donors. All implants were donated by Zimmer Inc. in Warsaw, Indiana and Total Joint Orthopedics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The operation walk Utah surgical team
“Since our first mission to El Salvador, Operation Walk Utah’s dedication has only grown stronger, as we see the need for help year after year,” says Hofmann. “Every person we are fortunate enough to meet and potentially help becomes a reminder of why these medical missions are important. No one deserves to live a life with constant pain and immobility from degenerative diseases or injuries. It is our duty and honor to make physical improvements in a patient so the quality of his or her life strengthens.”
In addition to providing surgical treatment abroad, Operation Walk Utah also gives back to those in need locally. This December, the Operation Walk Utah team plans to select a group of people from Utah and surrounding areas who are eligible for a no-cost total hip or knee replacement surgery. To donate, visit our donation page..