The gift of mobility

David Evanich M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, recently performed free hip and knee replacements for two patients as part of the Third Annual Operation Walk USA.

Operation Walk USA, an independent medical charitable organization, provides all aspects of knee and hip replacement treatment – surgery, hospitalization, and pre-and post-operative care – at no cost to patients who do not qualify for government assistance, are uninsured, and are unable to afford surgery on their own.

The nationwide program, which included 120 volunteer orthopedic surgeons and 70 participating hospitals in 32 states, treated more than 230 patients, twice the number of patients and orthopedic surgeons in Operation Walk USA 2011, the first year of the program.

This year’s event was expanded from one day to the first week of December to allow more hospitals, surgeons and patients to participate. With the start of the holiday month, this was also a timely way for orthopedic surgeons and other providers to give back to their communities by helping to improve the quality of life and mobility of their patients.

While more than one million hip and knee replacements are performed in the U.S. each year, countless men and women continue to live with severe arthritic pain and immobility because they cannot afford joint replacement surgery.

Arthritic disease is the most common cause of disability in the U.S., affecting approximately 48 million Americans, or more than 21 percent of the adult population. The debilitating pain of end-stage hip or knee degenerative disease often makes working, or completing even the simplest of daily tasks, excruciatingly painful and oftentimes impossible. Hip and knee replacement surgeries are some of the most cost-effective and successful of all orthopedic procedures for eliminating pain and allowing patients to resume active, productive lives.

“We felt the team here at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound was doing such a phenomenal job at total joint replacement that we should give back to those that could not afford it.  Operation Walk provided us the opportunity to allow someone to achieve new freedom from pain and to regain mobility that would enhance that person’s life,” said Spencer Turner, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound.

In an attempt to focus on the local community, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound worked with its primary care physicians to identify candidates.

The knee replacement recipient, Mike Foster, was referred to Operation Walk USA as a result of an application by his sons’ new mother-in-law. After years at a labor intensive job, Foster found it difficult to function with his bad knees; however, he continued to work through the pain.

After a surprise call from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, Foster was connected with Dr. Evanich.  Following the surgery, Foster and his wife, Karen, personally expressed their appreciation to each staff member involved in his treatment and recovery and took the time to share how this surgery would change his life.

The hip replacement candidate, Clara Sanchez, was referred to Operation Walk USA by a primary care practice that serves the uninsured and underinsured. When the practice was notified, the nurse was overjoyed and amazed stating “this opportunity fell from the sky.” She worked diligently to find a way to help Sanchez, but she had exhausted all of her sources.

Dr. Evanich diagnosed Sanchez with avascular necrosis, a condition in which the blood supply to the bone fails causing the bone to die and ultimately collapse. This was an unexpected diagnosis, but one that could be corrected with hip replacement and which provided a dramatic change in the patients’ quality of life. Following surgery, Sanchez was surrounded by her family who expressed gratitude to each staff member involved in her care.

“Our entire team is thankful to have been able to play a part in Operation Walk USA.  Both patients expressed a great sense of relief following surgery. They were very excited and hopeful for the future. With the pain behind them, they both should do very well functionally. Their possibilities are unlimited,” said Dr. Evanich.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound donated all the operating room time, supplies, and hospital care for the Flower Mound Operation Walk patients; J. David Evanich M.D. of Orthopedic Associates, donated clinical and surgical services; Dr. Robert Egan and Dr. Lori Clifford of Pinnacle Anesthesia, anesthesia services; Zimmer Orthopedics, hip and knee implants; and Sunrise Home Health, donated services to allow the patients to recuperate in their homes.


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