Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Operation Walk 2011 - Day 4, March 27

"Voy a ser una persona normal otra vez. No voy a necesitar ayuda nunca mas. Voy a ser capas de sentarme, subir escaleras, y ponerme la ropa sola."

I'm going to be a normal person again. I won't need help anymore--I'll be able to sit, climb stairs, and put on my clothes all by myself.

-Familia Ramirez, Op Walk patient

Ms. Ramirez (pictured above, and at right) is a 27 year-old woman with longstanding hip pain as a result of previously undiagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. As indicated by the quote above, she was severely debilitated by her disease and had difficulty with even the most basic of daily activities. She agreed to share her story with us and our blog readers (as well as with the local press, see below) because she says, "(she) hopes many more people can be helped in the same way (she) has been." Because her hip arthritis is due to a chronic rheumatologic condition, rheumatoid arthris, Ms. Ramirez was evaluated by our Rheumatology specialist and Operation Walk volunteer Dr. Jeffrey Katz. After establishing her diagnosis with a series of blood tests and further x-rays, Dr. Katz is currently working with her physicians here to begin her on anti-rheumatic medications with the hopes of slowing the progression of her disease and its effects on her other joints.

While Day 4 progressed uneventfully in the operating room, near mass-hysteria broke out on the floor when singer, songwriter, and producer Juan Luis Guerra (in middle in picture, above), a 15-time latin Grammy and 2-time Grammy award winner visited with the Operation Walk patients. As one of the most internationally acclaimed Dominican artists alive, his was a truly special visit for our patients. At right is pictured Ms. Ramirez, and an article in the local newspaper detailing her time with Mr. Guerra.

As the week has gone one, I have been struck by how smoothly the operating rooms and the incredibly busy operative schedule has been run. Four total joint replacements in each of four operating rooms per day is an huge undertaking in any operative setting, let alone in a foreign country on unfamiliar territory. This is wholly a testament to the efforts of our operating room nurses, scrub techs, and staff. The logistics in creating four safe, sterile, and fully functioning operating rooms is immense, and these people deserve special mention. Many of them are pictured below...

Finally, we at Operation Walk want to give a huge thanks once again to our sponsors, without whom this trip would not be possible. The cost of the orthopaedic implants alone would be prohibative and Depuy Orthopaedics has graciously absorbed that cost.

We look forward to our final day of operating tomorrow, and to more and more of our patients heading for home.

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