Eight Years of Changing Lives: Operation Walk Boston

Abel Rodriguez gets back on his feet after hip replacement surgery.

For five years following a traumatic injury, 20-year-old Abel Rodriguez, of the Dominican Republic, experienced excruciating pain in both of his hips, forcing him to walk hunched over with crutches. Xiomara Concepcion, a 34-year-old woman suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and bilateral knee pain since adolescence, required a wheelchair to get around.

Rodriguez and Concepcion are among 39 patients whose lives were transformed last month when they received joint replacements, thanks to Operation Walk Boston.

For one week in March, a team of more than 50 volunteers, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, physical therapists and operating room staff traveled to the Hospital General de La Plaza de la Salud in Santa Domingo for Operation Walk Boston’s eighth mission. The BWH-led team performed 56 knee and hip replacements. Additionally, 58 volunteer medical students from the Dominican Republic cared for patients as part of the team’s goal of educating the next generation of health care professionals in the country.

Read the story in BWH Bulletin and visit Operation Walk Boston for more information.

Nurse Volunteers in Dominican Republic

By Courtney Murphy, BSN, RN
Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care Units

From Feb. 22 to March 8, I had an experience of a lifetime. Alongside 24 other registered nurses, I traveled to El Cercado and Cotui, Dominican Republic, on a medical mission with a nonprofit organization called Intercultural Nursing. I had the opportunity and pleasure to provide free health care to some of the poorest people in the Dominican Republic. We treated persons of all ages, from infancy through late adulthood. Many of the men and women I met walked more than two hours to see “the wonderful American nurses.”

During our first clinic day, I met a woman in her 50s who told me she suffered from chronic headaches. After performing a thorough assessment, I decided to give her some Tylenol in addition to the toiletries everyone we saw received. As I handed her a small bottle of Tylenol and began to explain how frequently to take the pain medication, tears began to roll down her cheeks. She told me she has never been able to afford Tylenol and has lived in pain for the past ten years.

Courtney Murphy is joined by local children who would walk to the clinic after school to visit the nurses.

My heart melted when I saw how appreciative this woman was. To know something as simple as Tylenol was going to make such a huge difference in this woman’s life was a wonderful feeling. For each clinic day that followed, I encountered many more individuals who were so thankful of the care we provided.

As nurses, we make a difference in the lives of strangers each and every day. This opportunity allowed me to change the world, at least for the 800 plus people we saw and treated during my two week mission. I look forward to going on another medical mission in the near future to help even more people and bring smiles to the faces of those in need.

Another Successful Mission for Operation Walk Boston

The BWH-led Operation Walk Boston team is on its seventh annual mission to the Dominican Republic, performing joint replacements on those in need. This year, the team set its sights on providing joint replacements for 43 patients, with the goal of performing 43 total knee replacements and 18 total hip replacements. Check out photos and blog posts from the team throughout its trip at operationwalkboston.blogspot.com