Operation Walk is a volunteer medical organization that provides free surgical treatment for patients in developing countries and here at home in the U.S. who have no access to life- improving care for arthritis or other debilitating bone and joint conditions. They also educate in-country orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals on the the most advanced treatments and surgical techniques for diseases of the hip and knee.
Our organization was founded in 1996, by Dr. Lawrence Dorr in Los Angeles, CA. While on a mission trip to Russia, he realized that he could better teach physicians by demonstrating, rather than describing surgery. He also realized that he could bring surgical skills and healing processes to the poorest of the world’s populations, while teaching local physicians. This was the catalyst to form Operation Walk. He recruited a team of surgeons, internal medicine doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, and physical therapists to join him on the first trip to Havana, Cuba. During their visit, 45 joints were successfully replaced in three days, allowing patients to walk again after years of immobility. The team was exhilarated and full of enthusiasm for the next mission. Over the next ten years, OpWalk teams returned to Cuba six times, helping more than 250 patients. To date, Dr. Dorr’s vision has helped to create 17 teams across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland, who have made over 100 trips to 20 countries and have helped more than 100,000 patients regain their mobility.
Our team consists of 40 to 60 volunteers who donate their time on the week long trips. Not only do these volunteers use their PTO and vacation time to go on our missions, but often pay for their own travel expenses. OpWalk pays for volunteer lodging and food, implants and tools used during surgery, medications, dressings, gowns, patient hospitalization expenses, and the shipping of all cargo. Your gift will enable our team to return patients with disabling conditions to a more normal lifestyle. Candidates screened for possible surgery are often confined to a wheel chair, crutches or dependent on assistance from others just to walk short distances. The gift of a new hip or knee can make a significant difference to those who can’t perform everyday tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, or tying their shoes free from pain.
This year we are offering a unique way to connect with our patients. Over the past 20 years our teams have been called “angels” in many languages. Now we are making “Operation Walk Angels” official and you are invited to join the heavenly team. Angels contribute $1,000 annually and are paired with a patient during each mission. As an Angel, you will receive information on your patient and get progress updates and photos throughout the surgery week. You also have the opportunity to volunteer on a mission trip if space is available. You can be one of our Angels and light up the life of a person who is suffering pain and the hardship of not being able to work or live independently. The first step into a new life begins with YOU! Become an Angel now!
Thank you for considering Operation Walk during this season of giving. Every donation, no matter the size, changes the lives of our patients, their families, neighbors, and community members. Be sure to follow our missions, patient and volunteer stories, as well as the latest news on our Facebook page. Together we can make a difference!