Project Description

José lives in Panama and until recently, had been living with pain and immobility from hip dysplasia for most of his life. As the pain had gotten progressively worse, he finally found himself using a wheelchair most of the time. It was frustrating for an otherwise healthy, strong man who loved life. Being confined to a wheelchair meant loss of freedom and inability to work.

For someone like Jose, hip dysplasia isn’t just a condition. It’s a life-changing condition because in the area where Jose lives, there is little access to certain kinds of medical care. In his case, it meant no access to specialty hip providers and surgeons who could fix him. When OpWalk Carolinas met Jose on screening day, he was clearly in pain when he walked, yet stoic, proud and smiling despite his discomfort. After being seen by the team in clinic, José was determined to be a great surgical candidate for a total hip replacement, and he was put on the surgical schedule.

On the day of his surgery, the operating room (OR) team was ready for José’s arrival. José’s surgical team was prepared that his operation wasn’t going to be straight forward due to the severity of his joint disease. It was further complicated by the fact that José was bleeding more than normally expected. Every OR teammate was hyper-vigilant about his condition, ready to react and respond immediately throughout the surgery. The surgery was successful, and the incision over José’s new hip was closed up and he was taken to recovery.

José’s sedation was wearing off and he found himself in his hospital bed, nurse anesthetist Jean noticed that José had tears in his eyes. He quietly whispered:

Dios te bendiga. Estoy muy agradecido de que estés aquí”.
“God bless you. I’m so grateful you’re here.”

Everyone standing over his bed began to cry. Jean says that Jose’s case was the most difficult case for her the entire week, not just because of the surgery, but emotionally. She had been in full nurse mode, taking care of her nursing duties, but when Jose woke up in tears and expressed his gratitude, she says the whole room paused.

“I lost it. We all did. I’ll never forget that.”

By the next day, Jose was up and walking along with the assistance of the OpWalk Carolinas physical therapy team. According to his physician assistant Emily, Jose couldn’t have been more proud of himself. Sometimes, she says, it’s those first steps that matter the most.

“He was SO proud to show us the videos of him walking. It was awesome.”