TAMPA, Fla. (KFSN) --One million and rising. That's how many people are getting their joints replaced every year in this country. That doesn't count all the people who need to have replacement surgeries, but can't afford them. But, there's hope for these folks thanks to a health care team donating their time and talent.
Kimberly Goff's arthritic hip made almost any movement excruciating. Even getting in the car was challenging.
Goff told Ivanhoe, "Walking was a great chore, getting up out of bed in the morning horrible until you get the stiffness out."
Then this came along: a new hip.
Goff said, "I'm expecting to walk and feel this pain and it's gone, it's just not there anymore."
But wait, there's more!
"I was given this life-changing surgery for absolutely free," Goff confessed.
John Kilgore, MD, the Chief of Orthopedics at Morton Plan Hospital in Clearwater, Florida, helped give Goff her hip for nothing. It's all part of a national program called Operation Walk USA where 43 hospitals in 19 states take part since one joint replacement can cost up to a hundred thousand dollars.
Dr. Kilgore explained, "It's actually very complicated. It's not as simple as saying I'll do your surgery for free."
First, the entire healthcare team has to agree to donate their services. Then they can help uninsured and very poor patients get the new joints they desperately need.
Dr. Kilgore explained that patients "Have to fulfill certain financial criteria. They fall into that donut hole that Medicaid Obamacare doesn't address."
But Goff was eligible.
Goff shared, "I needed this. My life totally changed because of this."
Dr. Kilgore expressed to Ivanhoe, "You can always give money to charities and things like that, but it's really nice to actually do something for somebody."
Operation Walk USA is an independent medical humanitarian organization. Patients are candidates if they do not qualify for government assistance. Doctors usually refer patients to the program.
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