Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RIAO Orthopedic Surgeon Leads Mission Trip to India

More than 47 people from the city of Ludhiana in northern India received life-changing joint replacement surgery thanks to a team of 45 dedicated volunteers from Operation Walk Maryland. The hip and knee replacement surgeries were performed at no cost for people who were suffering from disabling arthritis. The recipients would never have had access to this type of care if not for the team of dedicated volunteers.

Operation Walk Maryland was founded by Harpall Khanuja, M.D., Director of Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital and his wife Maria, an orthopedic nurse. Dr. Khanuja serves as medical director and Maria coordinates the never ending list of logistical details for the organization. Cargo and supplies are managed by Dotsie Czajkowski, a nurse practioner at the RIAO. This is the group’s third medical mission trip and it included volunteers from Sinai Hospital and eight other Baltimore-area medical institutions.

The group from Operation Walk Maryland obviously touched many lives during their time in India, but Dr. Khanuja expressed how the patients they treat also have a profound effect on the lives of the surgeons, doctors, nurses and volunteers that donate their time and expertise.

“There’s no doubt we get a lot of satisfaction from taking care of these patients,” said Dr. Khanuja, “It is quite humbling to have these very, very poor people thanking God for you, for not giving up on them and for treating them and changing their lives.”

“But I also value these trips as a way to introduce new people to this sort of medical mission work and seeing it grow,” he added. “I recently spoke to one of the physicians who went with us to India. He told me that this was the most rewarding thing he’s ever done in his medical career and how he’d like to be more involved in the future. That’s perhaps the most satisfying part for me.”

While there are other Operation Walk organizations throughout the country, each one is independent and self-funded through donations. Each team talks all the supplies and personnel to perform state of the art joint replacement surgery for free for poor people throughout the world. To learn more about Operation Walk Maryland, including photo galleries from their mission trips, click here.

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