Our Missions

Guatemala

Since 2006, Operation Walk Canada has returned to Guatemala each year as part of a long-term commitment to this country.

In Guatemala, the team works at Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedr, facility which provides residential care to nearly 300 children and adults with severe disabilities, as well as nutritional services and care to infants and toddlers with congenital cleft palate defects and other maladies. There are four operating rooms which are utilized by volunteer medical teams from all over the world. As does Operation Walk, these teams work alongside the in-country staff.  

The Obras relies heavily on donations from the private sector and receives negligible financial assistance from the Guatemalan government.

Ecuador

A joint mission of the London based Operation Walk Canada team and the Calgary based True North team first took place in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2009. Since then, Operation Walk Canada’s London team has returned to Ecuador each year.

The surgeries done on these Operation Walk medical missions to treat secondary osteoarthritis of the hip due to developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) are complex and challenging procedures, involving not only significant shortening of the femur (thigh bone) in order to reduce the hip from its’ dislocated position, but also total hip replacements in young (<50 years of age), mostly female patients. “The tragedy is that the secondary osteoarthritis of the hip due to DDH is largely preventable with early diagnosis, early treatment and the avoidance of the age old custom of swaddling infants with their hips extension.” However, the education needed to bring about this prevention is part of a very slow process. In developing countries such as Ecuador, DDH is too commonly not diagnosed and too often left untreated.   The result is significant hip deformity and leg length discrepancy by early adulthood accompanied by significant pain, stiffness and severe osteoarthritis.

The need to rectify this problem is urgent and in response to this need, Operation Walk in Ecuador has established an important initiative in conjunction with the surgeries. Alongside the local orthopaedic community and the country’s government, efforts to establish a national DDH early diagnosis and treatment and prevention program are actively underway.

Our Process

Operation Walk patients are triaged by in-country orthopaedic surgeons and refereed to the team. Because in Guatemala, both hip and knee procedures are performed, a small team (2 orthopaedic surgeons and 2 RNs) travels to Antigua approximately four months prior to the mission and further triages and screens patients. At this time both the Ecuador and Guatemala teams begin to assemble the necessary surgical supplies and implants.

Lists of required items (which include virtually every item from scalpel blades to prosthesis to dressings and everything in between) are refined from year to year and submitted to vendors. The approach is to ask for donations and barring this, to seek the best price possible for each item. The next several weeks are spent working out the logistics of mission week such as surgical schedules, OR staffing, team transportation and accommodations, packing and shipping of equipment and medicines. The cargo typically weighs approximately 4 tons.

Surgeries are performed during the first four days of each mission trip. Rehabilitation begins for all patients on their first post-operative day. Throughout the week, Operation Walk physicians, nurses and physiotherapists hold formal sessions for patients and their families to teach proper home care and rehabilitation exercises to be carried out following discharge.

Mission History

2006

Antigua, Guatemala
60 hip and knee replacements

 

2007

Antigua, Guatemala
52 hip and knee replacements

 

2008

Antigua, Guatemala
58 hip and knee replacements

 

2009

Cuenca, Ecuador
12 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
60 hip and knee replacements

 

2010

Cuenca, Ecuador
18 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
61 hip and knee replacements

2011

Cuenca, Ecuador
28 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
75 hip and knee replacements

 

2012

Cuenca, Ecuador
33 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
61 hip and knee replacements

 

2013

Cuenca, Ecuador
24 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
68 hip and knee replacements

2014

Cuenca, Ecuador
24 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
61 hip and knee replacements

 

2015

Cuenca, Ecuador
24 hip replacements

Antigua, Guatemala
59 hip and knee replacements

 

2016

Cuenca, Ecuador
24 hip replacements

Our Industry Partners

Without the hip and knee joint implants that Smith & Nephew Inc donates, our work would not be possible. Exactec Canada donates knee and hip spacers necessary for revision procedures and Producers Post, London, Ontario looks after filming and producing of all our videos. We extend our sincere thanks to these and many more organizations for their ongoing generosity and support.