Deserving Southern Arizona Patients Receive Free, Life-Changing Surgery

Tucson man is one of 10 patients who will receive total joint replacement surgery as part of a nationwide program

TUCSON, Ariz. – On Friday, Dec. 6, 10 patients from around Southern Arizona will receive the joint replacement surgery they so desperately need but are unable to afford. It’s all made possible through a partnership between Tucson Medical Center and Operation Walk, a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical services organization that provides free surgical treatment for patients who do not have access to life-improving care for debilitating bone and joint conditions.

Four of Tucson Orthopaedic Institute’s hip and knee surgeons, Russell Cohen, MD, Lawrence Housman, MD, Andrew Mahoney, MD, and John Wild, Jr., MD, will perform joint replacement surgeries on qualifying patients inside TMC’s new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower. “It’s so gratifying to be able to help these people get back to doing what they love, without being in pain. Some of these patients – through no fault of their own – had their lives turned upside down, and I am happy to be able to help them in this way. It’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Housman. 

The patients meet medical guidelines, as well as financial poverty guidelines.

One of those patients is 49-year-old Carlos Lopez, a father of four who suffered an on-the-job injury back in August of 2009. Lopez, a food service truck driver, was on Interstate 10 headed to Texas when a car slammed into his truck causing it to roll. “I felt like I was in a tornado,” he said. Lopez’s legs were pinned beneath the steering wheel, and he was trapped for about half an hour until emergency medical services arrived and cut him out of the wreckage.

Lopez underwent therapy, but when he returned to work a month later, the pain continued. He endured it for years until it forced him to quit in January 2012. “The pain was unbearable. I would fall off the ramp at work and injure myself. I was physically not able to do my job anymore. Since my case had been closed, I was not eligible to receive any more help under worker’s comp,” said Lopez.

“My legs are uneven because of the problem with my right hip, and my left leg being forced to compensate. I live with constant, excruciating pain between my knee and hip. I’ve developed a hernia from my injuries, as well as a back problem.” Lopez now walks with double canes for support.

Lopez received word a few weeks ago that he had been selected for the program. “I felt so overwhelmed when I received that phone call,” he said. “I know the recovery process will be challenging, but I’m ready for it. I feel so blessed and will do whatever it takes to get back on my feet without my double canes.”

As part of the program, the surgeons from Tucson Orthopaedic Institute, and anesthesiologists from Old Pueblo Anesthesia, will donate their time and expertise. Hospitalists will be volunteering time to care for patients after their surgery. Tucson Medical Center is donating the space and necessary prescription medications. Stryker Orthopedics is providing the joints, and Gentiva will provide free home health services to assist these patients during their recovery.

These patients will have top-notch care provided to them at no cost from the minute they show up for surgery, all the way through their recovery process. This program will give these patients the ability to drastically improve their quality of life.

As released by Tucson Medical Center on December 4, 2013