SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – It’s something often taken for granted: standing, walking, even putting on shoes and socks. There are people living every day with mobility issues who can’t afford to fix their problems.
One of those is Milton Bordeaux. He couldn’t stand up or walk without a cane just days ago.
“With the hip the way it was I couldn’t work,” said Bordeaux. “If I couldn’t work I couldn’t get insurance so I was really in a bad, bad situation.”
It was bad enough that Bordeaux had to move back in with his ex-wife just to get help.
That is until “Operation Walk” stepped in.
Bordeaux and three other local patients all had their hips or knees replaced, all for free.
“It was a lifesaver,” he said.
Doctors call it a “medical mission”.
Started in third world countries, now surgeons here in the United States, and at the Optim Surgery Center in Savannah, can offer life-changing help without that back-breaking cost.
“For these patients who are sort of living on the edge financially they don’t have the opportunity to get the care they need to restore function so they can improve their financial situation,” said Dr. Charles Hope II, Optim Surgery Center Orthopedic Surgeon.
“I could run before,” explains James Reyshan Parker, an Operation Walk patient. “I just couldn’t reach my feet. How long before I can touch my toes?” he asked the doctors.
Not long, according to Optim doctors.
That’s after Parker recovers from hip surgery he’s needed for a decade.
“The thing you wanted to do most was?” News 3 asked.
“Put my socks on. By myself,” said Parker, adding that he got a special pair for Christmas.
But more than just socks, Operation Walk doctors gave patients like Jeffrey Smith new movement, flexibility and hope.
“Best way I can put it is it’s like hitting the lottery,” said Smith. “Instead of winning money I won a new knee and recovery and a chance at a new life.”
“You have someone who has a problem or an issue you can fix for them and they haven’t had the capabilities or resources to do it themselves. How do you say no?” says Optim Surgery Center surgeon Dr. David Sedory.
“No” was something Parker and other patients had heard for years. But the “yes” from Operation Walk isn’t just about a new hip, it’s about a new life.
“What’s the thing you are looking forward to the most?” News 3 asked.
“Just being able to walk,” said Bordeaux. “That sounds simple but just being able to walk.”
“It’s really easy to write a check but when you can actually give your time and some of your effort and sort of care, I think its a great thing,” said Dr. Sedory.
The four patients chosen not only received surgery, but Optim will continue physical therapy for all these patients for free.