A ‘Joint’ Partnership Gives Patients with Arthritic Disease Renewed Mobility

AmeriCares and Operation Walk USA provide hip and knee replacements for the uninsured and underinsured

Photo courtesy of Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic.
Photo courtesy of Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic.

For the first time in years, Terry can walk without debilitating pain in her legs after receiving a free specialty surgery of Zimmer knee implants donated by AmeriCares Medical Outreach program.

Since 2010, Operation Walk USA has coordinated an annual December event where doctors and their teams volunteer their time to provide free hip or knee replacement surgeries for the uninsured and underinsured all over the U.S, and hospitals donate beds and services needed for pre- and post-op care.  For the past three years, AmeriCares Medical Outreach program through a partnership with Zimmer, Inc., a leading orthopedic manufacturer, has supported Operation Walk USA with donations of the hip and knee implants needed to perform these life-changing surgeries.

Prior to the surgery, Terry, 56, dealt with arthritis in both of her knees, because she could not cover the cost of surgery without health insurance. “It hurts to bend my knees, you know it really hurts,” she said. “If I stand for prolonged periods of time, my knees get locked up.” Even the most simple of tasks, such as getting out of bed and ready for her day left Terry in a great deal of pain and impeded her daily productivity. 

For three years, AmeriCares and Operation Walk USA have partnered to provide hip and knee replacements for uninsured and underinsured patients throughout the U.S. who suffer from arthritic disease and could not otherwise afford the life-changing surgeries.
 Photo courtesy of Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic

Stories like Terry’s are far too common as more than 20 percent of the U.S. adult population currently lives with arthritic disease. Hip and knee replacement surgeries are the most cost-effective and successful of all orthopedic procedures in restoring patients to active, productive lives; however, thousands of patients diagnosed with the disease cannot afford the expensive procedure.  

Thankfully, Operation Walk USA is working to help these patients in need. During Operation Walk USA 2013, AmeriCares Medical Outreach program supported 43 surgeons with the Zimmer implants they needed to provide 31 new hips, 38 new knees, and 66 renewed lives. In total, Operation Walk USA assisted more than 200 patients in 32 states around the country.

Terry expressed her gratitude for her surgeon, Dr. Thomas Samuelson, and his Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic team for volunteering their time and services to restore her quality of life. As she prepared for surgery she said, “It’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of effort on people’s part that I couldn’t have afforded otherwise and I’m just so grateful. I’m so blessed, it’s going to change my life, it really is.” 

AmeriCares Medical Outreach program supplies medicines and medical products to skilled, dedicated U.S.-based volunteer health care teams traveling to countries where basic health care is unavailable or unaffordable. Learn more about AmeriCares Medical Outreach Program here.