It’s hard to believe that Op Walk has come to an end. 6 days, 36 patients and 47 total joints later the atmosphere at Hospital General De La Plaza De La Salud is joyful. After completing one last physical therapy session, the patients were ready for the final ceremony where each patient is presented and cheered on by family, friends and Op Walk members. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our physical therapy team and the hard work of each and every patient, most of the patients walked to their seats. For the Op Walks staff and volunteers this was particularly emotional after working so closely with these wonderful people over the last 5 days. Following completion of the patient presentations and final picture, everyone was saying their goodbyes when one of the patients hushed the crowd and spoke of her gratitude and blessed us for the work we had done. She thanked the Op Walk team and said that now the way she would repay us would be to take care of herself to honor us, so that when we come back next year Dr. Alcantra can say "we have triumphed". She then broke into song, giving an emotional and heartfelt performance, which was met with cheers, beaming faces and tears of joy from the crowd. She is a living embodiment of the Op Walk Mission and her words served as a fitting conclusion to the week.
We cannot thank the Hospital General De La Plaza De Salud for hosting us, and their amazing staff for all of their hard work. A special thanks to Dr. Alcantra and his staff, especially coordinators Adianez Santiago and Eddie Sanchez, whose tireless efforts made this trip possible.
Of course, a special thanks to all of our donors, especially DePuy, whose generous donations have allowed this project to continue for the last 5 years. DePuy not only supplies the implants for each patient, but their staff provides an invaluable service during the trip. DePuy representatives Domenic Dinardo, who is also an Op Walk Board of Directors member, Josh Eaton, Danielle Kinding worked diligently over the past 5 days in constant communication with the team both in and out of the OR. They were critical in the day to day operations of the operating room and ensuring all the equipment necessary was available for each case. Without Depuy’s donations this trip would not be possible and the lives of the hundreds of patients who have been helped over the past five years would be very different. It only takes a visit to the postoperative clinic to appreciate the impact that this mission has made. Each year patients return and express their continued gratitude. Our internist Dr. Jeffrey Katz is currently compiling the outcome data for the patients treated thus far.
As this year’s mission comes to a close, we look forward to next year and our continued partnership with the Hospital General De Plaza De Salud and DePuy to aide the underserved populations of the Dominican Republic.