While many of us take for granted our daily mobility, millions of Americans are living with excruciating hip and knee pain that cripples them, their lifestyles and their ability to work or provide for themselves or their families. There are physical and psychological tolls. Most of all, they just want their lives back.
The solution is often hip and knee replacement surgery. But what happens to those individuals who desperately need new joints to minimize pain and regain mobility and can’t have access to them due to lack of insurance coverage, financial or other constraints?
Through Operation Walk USA 2015, two Nebraska Medicine patients received free joint replacements from orthopaedic surgeon, Curtis Hartman, MD. In mid-December, 59-year-old Brenda Bostic of Bellevue, Neb., and 63-year-old Randy Robins of Blair, Neb., underwent surgery at the med center.Bostic worked in receiving at Walmart most of her adult life, and was very aware of the arthritis and pain in her knee. For 20 years, she tried to minimize the discomfort with cortisone shots, frequent doctor visits and other procedures. But, in October, she thought her knee was going numb. She was rushed to the emergency department and was told she needed knee replacement surgery. When Bostic mentioned to the med center physicians that she didn’t have insurance, they recommended Operation Walk USA. She applied and was accepted.
“I was absolutely ecstatic,” says Bostic. “I want to be able to jump up and down and run along the field to support my grandchildren at their sporting events. Being a grandmother is the joy of my life.”
Bostic, who is also legally blind, underwent a total left knee replacement on Dec. 15, under the care of Dr. Hartman. That same day, Dr. Hartman performed a left hip replacement on Robins, who enjoyed a long career at Union Pacific Railroad. Over the years, Robins has met life’s challenges head on. Twelve years ago, his youngest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Five years ago, he came down with a rare form of cancer himself. Then, came Robins’ left hip. He’d been feeling discomfort for years, but after his recovery from cancer, the pain was excruciating.“I’m a pretty tough guy. Always have been,” says Robins. “But, the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk.”
Given the physical nature of his work, Robins was forced to retire early. He had little insurance and was still paying off his cancer bills. His eldest daughter had read about Operation Walk USA and applied on his behalf without him knowing it.
“I’m very emotional about it,” says Robins. “I’ve been an unselfish man all my life and told my case worker that I don’t want to take an opportunity away from somebody else. I consider myself a fortunate man just to be here. I want to live again. I want to work again.”
Operation Walk USA provides all aspects of treatment – surgery, hospitalization, and pre-and post-operative care ─ at no cost to participating patients who may not qualify for government health coverage, have insurance or afford surgery on their own. Operation Walk USA takes place annually in early December to allow for greater hospital, surgeon and medical staff participation – and as a holiday gift to the patients it treats.