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Patient Experiences

The following are just a few remarkable people whose lives have been dramatically improved by Operation Walk Denver. There are hundreds more like them; each with their own amazing story of restored hope after years of suffering. With your support, we will continue to provide the same improved mobility and joy of life to less-fortunate people in developing countries for years to come.

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.

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.

Abdy’s Journey

The very last day of our 2007 trip to Panama, making our final rounds, a breathless man came bounding up the stairs into the Santo Tomas Hospital. With tears in his eyes, he wrapped his arms around Dr. Todd Miner, overcome with relief that he had made it in time to see us..

Abdy’s Journey

The very last day of our 2007 trip to Panama, making our final rounds, a breathless man came bounding up the stairs into the Santo Tomas Hospital. With tears in his eyes, he wrapped his arms around Dr. Todd Miner, overcome with relief that he had made it in time to see us.

During a political rally in the upheaval of Panama in the early 1980’s, Abdy, just a teenager, received a gunshot wound to his hip. He hobbled in pain, carrying the bullet in his hip for twenty-five years! On our mission last April, Abdy finally received his total hip replacement.

Word had traveled to his hometown that Operation Walk was back. So Abdy did everything he could to make it to the hospital while our team was still there. The sheer joy of his freedom from pain was so great that he wanted to find some means to return to Panama City. He traveled several days via bus and on foot, to tell us “thank you” and to demonstrate to us how well he could walk.

After hugs and smiles, captured on camera, Dr. Miner promised to send a copy of the photos to Abdy. But, when asked how to reach him, he gave a puzzled look. He explained, through an interpreter, that he did not have a street address, he did not have a mailbox, and he had no phone. This is just the way it is.

Abdy may never see the photos, but when he walks by a window or stands in front of a mirror he sees himself standing, walking and running pain free at last.

Carla’s Independence

For Carla, a 26-year-old woman from a Nicaraguan hill town, living independently was only a dream. Suffering from juvenile arthritis for years, Carla’s knee was fused in a straight position, prohibiting her from walking.

Carla’s Independence

For Carla, a 26-year-old woman from a Nicaraguan hill town, living independently was only a dream. Suffering from juvenile arthritis for years, Carla’s knee was fused in a straight position, prohibiting her from walking. She lived with her family who physically carried her from place to place. Wanting to ease the burden on her family and lead an independent life, Carla sought the help of Dr. Dennis and his Operation Walk team on their mission to Nicaragua.

Dr. Dennis’ team replaced Carla’s knee, enabling her to walk properly for the first time in years. Full of optimism, emotion and gratitude, Carla set off to start her new life, making her dreams come true.

A Gentleman Named Sebastian

Of all the awesome experiences we encounter in our lives, I can easily say for me that being a member of Operation Walk has been the most rewarding! And my experience with Sebastian Manuel stands out in my heart as one of the most treasured of those memories..

A Gentleman Named Sebastian
As told by Kathy Jones, RN

Of all the awesome experiences we encounter in our lives, I can easily say for me that being a member of Operation Walk has been the most rewarding! And my experience with Sebastian Manuel stands out in my heart as one of the most treasured of those memories.

Sebastian Manuel was one of the men in a room I was overseeing with seven people who had waited many years for a joint replacement. His surgery wasn’t scheduled until the fourth and final day. He needed both hips replaced and had difficulty walking even short distances in his hospital room, but I never heard one word of complaint from him.

In the meantime, he spent each day assisting his roommates. Sebastian became my personal interpreter while I was there. He was stoic and always smiling; the needs of his friends came first. There were a couple of times when there were difficulties with other patients. Sebastian would clamor from his bed and hobble over to assist me with teaching and translation.

One of his final statements to me as we said goodbye was “Oh my, I am so blessed and cannot thank this group enough. I pray to have my second hip to be done somehow next year. But even now I can go home and care for my wife and children as I would like to.” A true gentleman!