Caring for the Underprivileged in Vietnam

Giving Back


When a young woman in a small Vietnamese village suffered an injury as a child, the resulting healing caused her to walk with pain and a noticeable limp. Sadly, this made it very difficult for her to lead a normal life, which included her finding a potential spouse.

Like so many men and women in impoverished parts of the world, this young woman did not have access to the kind of specialized medical care that is often taken for granted in more industrialized parts of the world. Luckily, there are health care professionals who are trying to change that, including Tucson Orthopaedic Institute’s Dr. Russell Cohen, who treated this young woman while volunteering in Vietnam in October 2014.

Dr. Cohen is a member of a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organization called Operation Walk. Founded by Dr. Lawrence Dorr in 1995, Operation Walk provides surgical treatment to patients with debilitating joint conditions in underdeveloped, or developing, parts of the world who otherwise would not have access to such care.

This most recent trip is the second time Dr. Cohen has volunteered his time in Vietnam and the second trip he has made with Operation Walk. Dr. Cohen volunteered in Haiti to provide care after the earthquake and he also volunteers with other TOI surgeons to serve in Ecuador.

When asked why he volunteers his time Dr. Cohen said, “When the people I treat look me in the eye and say thank you it is an amazing feeling. To know I was able to play a part in making somebody’s life better is my reward.”

Working with 50 support staff and 5 other surgeons, Dr. Cohen and the Operation Walk team were able to replace an astonishing 59 joints in just 3 ½ days! While doing surgeries, Operation Walk providers also educated and trained local physicians on new joint replacement techniques, allowing them to offer a higher level of care for their patients.

The young Vietnamese woman that Dr. Cohen treated on this trip was walking normally just one day after her surgery. Dr. Cohen was excited about her recovery and the opportunity she now has to live a full, and normal, life.







If you would like to learn more about Operation Walk please visit their website at