NEWPORT — This past November, Vincent Marino, Director of Rehabilitation Services, and Physical physical therapist at North Country Hospital joined a medical mission trip to the African country of Ghana to provide joint replacements for those in need.
Due to the prevalence of Sickle Cell Anemia in Africans, there is a high incidence of Avascular Necrosis of the femoral head, even in young people in their 20s.
Compound that with many individuals with a history of orthopedic trauma resulting in severe deformities, there are a large number of people in need.
Without advanced medical intervention, these individuals are profoundly limited in their function and ability to have a good quality of life, often unable to provide for themselves or their families.
Marino and a team of over 50 medical professionals and logistics personnel volunteered their time and resources for a 10-day trip to Koforidua, Ghana.
After shipping a cargo container full of medical equipment and supplies, donated total joint implants, and patient care items, the Operation Walk New York team, got to work for 4 days of surgery after holding a clinic day to evaluate potential surgical candidates.
Working in collaboration with the wonderful medical team at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Koforidua, the team was able to complete 92 joint replacements on 88 patients while there.
The average age of these patients was around 35 years old.
Of the 11 international medical missions this team has completed, this was the most ever done.
As a Physical Therapist, Marino’s role was to get patients up and moving as soon as 5 hours after surgery and to teach them to ambulate with an assistive device, navigate stairs, and perform the needed exercises to achieve a good recovery.
This is his 5th mission with the team, including 4 to Ghana and one to Guatemala.
This was the first trip since 2019 as the Covid-19 pandemic delayed any return.
Many patients had been waiting three years to have their other side replaced.
“The people of Ghana are great, very motivated to get better, and appreciative of the care we provide them,” Marino said. “There is a huge need for advanced medical care in all parts of the world and we do our part to change lives, one joint at a time.”
Operation Walk is an all-volunteer medical humanitarian organization that provides the gift of mobility through life-changing joint replacement surgeries at no cost for those in need globally.
Over the past 21 years, Operation Walk teams have performed hip and knee replacement surgery for more than 17,000 individuals in 25 countries.
The Operation Walk New York chapter has completed 11 trips and helped nearly 1,000 patients in Ghana, Guatemala, Panama, and Nepal.