written by Michael Anderson posted on May 28, 2018
“A life-changing experience” – An interview with Al Koop, vice chair of Operation Walk
It’s not that hard to make a big difference in the lives of people with debilitating bone and joint diseases, says Al Koop, owner of 4L Communications and vice chair of Operation Walk.
This year, 365 Technologies, 4L Communications, and TELUS are sponsoring the Operation Walk Gala Evening, which takes place on Thursday, May 31 at The Gates on Roblin. Proceeds from this year’s fifth-annual gala provide surgical treatment to people with joint diseases in Nicaragua.
Below, Al shares his experiences getting involved and working with Operation Walk, and why the work it does is so important.
1. What is Operation Walk and how did you first hear about it?
Operation Walk is a not-for-profit, volunteer organization that provides surgical treatments to patients in developing countries with arthritis and other debilitating bone and joint diseases, and no access to care.
I learned about Operation Walk from one of my best friends, who is head of surgery at Concordia and a partner in the Hip and Knee Institute; he has been going on this mission for over seven years.
2. Why is Operation Walk important to you?
I have been to Managua, Nicaragua three times. My participation began by having the winning bid at an auction at an Operation Walk fundraiser. It’s changed my life to see Operation Walk provide life-changing knee-replacement surgery to the people of Nicaragua.
My role with Operation Walk is to fundraise for the gala, help organize the supply containers before the group leaves for Managua, and organize and gather supplies in Managua.
3. Can you explain a patient’s experience and response after receiving a new joint replacement?
It’s not overstatement to say that patients get their life back by being mobile once again. Before the surgery, these patients have knees that are so bad, they simply don’t work. Once they have the surgery, these patients can again have mobility and help at home, allowing a caregiver to go back to work. To see it firsthand is a great sense of accomplishment.
4. Is there a key takeaway that you’d like to share about this experience?
Our healthcare system in Canada is not as broken as we might perceive it. In Canada, patients with lesser pain and mobility issues would already be in line for a knee replacement, which would happen within two years. If Operation Walk didn’t do over 60 replacements a year, none of these patients would ever get new knees.
5. What’s the easiest way for people to help?
It’s as easy as buying a ticket to the Operation Walk gala evening on Thursday, May 31 at the Gates on Roblin. The proceeds from the evening support Operation Walk Winnipeg’s team of 60 health professionals, including surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, physiotherapists, medical device reprocessing specialists and support workers traveling to Managua, Nicaragua for a week next November to perform knee and hip replacements.
Your participation truly helps the people who need it most.
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