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Since birth Daniel, has struggled with a genetic condition that caused his kneecaps to dislocate without warning. The last time it happened, Daniel, 24, was walking down the stairs in his apartment building when his right knee dislocated and his leg froze. He spent the next three months hobbling around on crutches.
Having already tried all sorts of treatments and several surgeries, Daniel was told his only chance of living a normal life was to have the injured kneecap replaced. But he had been working at a golf course for only a few months and did not have health insurance.
“I had two options: I could go around on crutches for the rest of my life, or I could have the $50,000 surgery and spend the rest of my life paying it off,” Daniel said.
Luckily, he heard about a new AmeriCares program that provides free replacement joints for people in the United States and abroad who can’t afford them. To date, Zimmer Inc., a leading manufacturer of artificial joints and other orthopedic devices, has donated nearly $2 million worth of products to AmeriCares for patients like Daniel. Patients receiving the replacement joints must qualify for charitable assistance.
On September 2, 2009, Daniel had his kneecap replaced with one donated by AmeriCares.
“I do 150 to 200 of these surgeries a year and this is the first time I had a replacement joint offered free of charge to a patient,” said the surgeon, Dr. Michael McCormick of Panama City, Florida. “I’ve heard about it in the developing world, but never in this country. It’s an amazing program because there are people all over the United States who need this kind of help.”