Day 4 through Day 8: 1/9 – 1/12 — A week at Juan Bosch Hospital. 62 surgeries performed by Operation Walk Freedom to Move!
Team Portland & Team St Louis descended together on Juan Bosch Hospital to perform 62 hip and knee surgeries over the following week. Many reunions with previous trip members and the hospital staff ensued.
As surgeries got under way we prepared to overcome the inevitable hurdles that always arise. Missing luggage and supplies were located. The schedule, constantly in flux, was updated as cancellations were rescheduled and patients showed up out of order. Implants were located, swapped, and adjusted as the surgeons began operating and discovered what was needed once inside the patient.
The rewards came after the surgeries, in recovery as patients worked with the physical therapist, Natalie Reed from McMinnville, and began to exercise their new joints. Many patients were walking for the first time without pain in years. Family members smiled and even wept as they saw their loved ones rise from their beds or wheel chair to walk down the hall.
One case typical of so many, which we followed this year, is Claribel an 18 year-old girl that Dr. Duwelius did a hip replacement on Monday and Natalie took care of Monday night and then again Tuesday morning.
Claribel comes from a family who has had some challenges with their hips. Claribel, her mom, and her grandmother were all born with hip dyspepsia. In the US Claribel might have had a corrective osteotomy of her pelvis at about 16 years-old or so, here in the DR she was unable to get the medical care she needed. She, like her mom and grandma before her, has spent most of her life in pain and unable to walk and get around much.
Natalie first interacted with Claribel prior to surgery and Claribel was understandably nervous. She had just graduated from high school and here she was having a total hip procedure at only 18 years old! She was hopeful that she was going to be able to walk normally and pain free but scared that the operation would not work for her and she would live the same challenging and pain-filled life as her mother and grandmother.
Natalie is fluent in Spanish and Claribel shared her fears with Natalie Monday night: for 18 years Claribel watched her two maternal antecedents navigate a life of discomfort, she did not want this for them or she and she realized that Operation Walk Freedom to Move provided a chance for her. After Monday night’s tears, Tuesday morning arrived and Natalie and Claribel were together again.
Only this time, Claribel was taking her very first steps, a little pain lingering from her operation, but her fearful tears had turned to tears of delight given the fact that a miracle had occurred.
Claribel was taking her very first steps without the pain she had felt her ENTIRE life!
What makes this even more awesome is that Claribel has a dream: she wants to go to medical school and become a pediatrician. She was fearful that because of her pain and inability to ambulate well that this dream was too big for her, now she realizes that the dream is about to begin!
Just one of many stories we will share here in future posts.
To sum up the week...
This quote from Pat Williams’ Facebook post sums up the week so nicely:
Stay tuned for more posts & videos as we reunite with some of the previous year’s patients and check in on their progress!
"Movement is life, freedom, and independence."
-Dr. Paul Duwelius, Founder of Freedom to Move