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El Salvador

Earlier this year, current and former Duke residents and fellows, including Dr. Daniel Mangiapani (PGY-4 resident); Dr. Jordan Schaeffer (Resident Class ’13); and Dr. Tim Randell (Fellowship Class of ’15), traveled to San Salvador to participate in Operation Walk Utah.

Operation Walk Utah was started in 2007 by Dr. Aaron Hofmann (Hofmann Arthritis Institute), who had a dream of doing free surgeries in third-world countries with a team of volunteers. It is a private, not-for-profit, volunteer medical service organization that provides free joint replacement  surgeries for patients with disabling arthritis in developing countries and in the United States. Operation Walk also educates in-country orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and other health care professionals about advanced treatments and surgical techniques for diseases of the hip and knee joints.

During this year’s trip to San Salvador, the Operation Walk Utah team performed 72 joint replacements in 5 operative days, spanning 3 ORs. Cases ranged from a 35 degree valgus knee with MCL incompetency to bilateral total hip arthroplasty on severely dysplastic hips. On the team’s final day, they rounded on all the inpatients, whose joy and happiness radiated on both their faces and the faces of their families.

“It was, no doubt, a life-changing experience that has changed my outlook on what ‘service’ truly is,” says Dr. Mangiapani.