By Logan Stewart Kureczka
Operation Walk Carolinas has released the final number of surgeries from its most recent mission to Panama. In just three and a half days, the medical team made up of 50 providers from OrthoCarolina, Atrium Health and Novant Health performed 60 total hip and knee replacements on 54 patients. This is the largest number of joint replacements performed to date since Operation Walk Carolinas took its first trip to Cuba in 2017.
While in Panama, the Operation Walk Carolinas medical team also hosted professional education training for local physicians about advanced orthopedic treatments and care.
Specialized medical care is rare in Panama, meaning people there have relatively little or no access to life-changing surgeries such as hip and knee replacements – which in many cases can leave them unable to walk or facing a lifetime of debilitating pain. The country of Panama has a population of approximately 4.1 million with thousands of patients waiting for joint replacements.
“The reason that we go to great lengths to travel to these countries and do this work is because of outcomes like what we experienced in Panama – patients who couldn’t walk before surgery are now mobile and able to work, spend time with their families, provide for those families, and do the things they love,” said Bryan Springer, MD, Operation Walk Carolinas co-founder and hip and knee surgeon with OrthoCarolina. “We work closely with our national Operation Walk colleagues to determine which destinations most need our care and are already considering where we will go in 2020.”
Dr. Springer, who launched Operation Walk Carolinas in 2017 with co-founder Walt Beaver, MD, will next participate in Difference Makers’ Grand Canyon Rim-To-Rim Hike June 13-16 to continue to raise money and awareness for the organization. As a unified and supportive group, hikers will face extreme heat and elevation changes while hiking 23.9 miles from the Grand Canyon’s north rim to south rim.
“We are so lucky to have access to quality and specialty medical care in the United States,” said Dr. Springer. “Experiences like going to Panama and hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim help teach us valuable lessons, allowing us to learn and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Aviation provided transportation for the 2019 Panama mission, along with videography and additional volunteers to help support the effort. Operation Walk Carolinas funds are raised almost entirely by the medical providers on the team, who volunteer their time for the cause. For more information, visit opwalkcarolinas.org.
About Operation Walk Carolinas
Operation Walk Carolinas is a joint effort between teams at OrthoCarolina, Atrium Health and Novant Health and. This private, not-for-profit volunteer medical services organization provides free surgical treatment to patients in developing countries and helps patients who have no access to life-improving care for arthritis or other debilitating bone and joint conditions. They also dedicate a portion of their time to educating in-country orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals on the most advanced treatments and surgical techniques for diseases of the hip and knee joints, to help create a lasting contribution to patient care. opwalkcarolinas.org