Mirna’s Runway Walk
A poor, young woman in Panama suffered with a severe case of asthma. The doctors began to provide her with steroids in large doses, for an extended period of time. Unknown to this young woman or the doctors, although this was alleviating her asthma, it was also beginning to break down her bones and the connections in her hips.
She complained to the doctors even more when she became pregnant nine years later. She begged to have her baby delivered by C-section because the pain was too much. But her husband and the doctors did not understand the severity of her condition until she delivered her son. The birth caused so much damage to her hips, due to their weakened state, that she was no longer able to walk.
Since that time, the doctors have had to tell this impoverished young mother that she would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Living in the projects isn’t easy for anyone, with no running water and outdoor plumbing, but for a crippled young mother it was even more difficult. She needed help of family and neighbors to use the outdoor facilities, to dress herself and to get around her home. Her husband, her older children and her young son began to live their lives without her. Her marriage and her friendships suffered.
This woman, who had endured so much pain and suffering, first came to the attention of Operation Walk on their 2005 mission to Panama. Her name is Mirna. The doctor who had examined Mirna in Panama knew of the upcoming mission, and got her name placed on the list of prospective patients. In November 2005, Dr. Dennis traveled with the Los Angeles Operation Walk team to Panama, and Mirna was selected to have her hips replaced. The surgery was a success – relieving Mirna of the pain she had endured all of those years, and allowing her to get her life back.
On our return to Panama in April of 2006, Mirna came to the hospital for her follow up visit. On that first visit, she spoke with all the hopefuls as they sat in the waiting room waiting for word on whether or not they would be part of the final fifty people chosen to receive a new hip or knee. She came back the next day to visit the patients as they waited for their surgeries. Then she returned again to encourage those who had their surgeries and were now beginning physical therapy. She smiled, she danced, she encouraged others and she inspired us.
Mirna inspired us so much that we flew her to Denver for our big Gala event. Her story was told in our video, and from the stage Alfredo Maduro, our Operation Walk Denver Panama ambassador, gave the details of her life-changing story. Then Mirna stood on the stage and walked the runway dressed by Saks Fifth Avenue. Walking the long runway with a bounce in her step, Mirna smiled and waved. She looked out in the audience at donors and volunteers who had helped her and so many others in her country and around the world to experience at last, the joy of walking.