Although approximately 750,000 total hip and total knee arthroplasties are performed in the United States each year, many Americans continue to live with severe arthritic pain and impaired function because they cannot afford the surgery. Although among the most cost-effective procedures, hip and knee replacements are usually out of reach for those who are poor, economically disadvantaged, or without health insurance.
It’s a situation that Operation Walk USA hopes to change—one patient at a time. On Dec. 7, 2012, more than 109 orthopaedic surgeons at 49 hospitals in 29 states will provide free joint replacements to 200 individuals—more than double the number treated during the first Operation Walk USA event in 2011.
A physician champion leads each local project, and each participating center makes its own patient selections. All aspects of treatment, including the surgery, hospitalization, and pre- and postoperative care, are provided at no cost to participating patients.
Potential patients undergo a rigorous screening and approval process. Industry partners provided the implants, and the Operation Walk USA central office serves as a resource, facilitating the process. The AAOS provides media relations support. Guidelines for participating physicians and hospitals are available on request; email firstname.lastname@example.org
“The reward for each of us who participates in Operation Walk USA 2012 is to enable patients to overcome their disabled lives and return to their social world, to again be productive citizens of society,” said Lawrence D. Dorr, MD, who established the international Operation Walk organization in 1995.
A coordinated effort
Three orthopaedic specialty societies—The Hip Society, The Knee Society, and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS)—came together to hold the first coordinated Operation Walk USA event in 2011. At that time, approximately 25 hospitals participated, providing free total joint replacements to 85 patients.
The increase in the number of participating surgeons, medical staff, and hospitals for 2012 is, according to Dr. Dorr, “a testament to what a rewarding program this is and what it does for everyone involved. The ultimate service is unconditional giving of knowledge and skills. That is why we all chose medicine.”
Device manufacturers Biomet, DePuy, MAKO Surgical, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Total Joint Orthopedics (TJO), Inc., and Zimmer donated the implants for Operation Walk USA 2012 patients. Ortech Data, Inc., is providing a complimentary orthopaedic registry.
For more information on Operation Walk USA, for a list of participating orthopaedic surgeons and hospitals, and for information on how to become a physician champion or a participating hospital for the 2013 event, visit www.opwalkusa.com