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Colorado Surgeon Offers Free Hip Surgery For ‘Operation Walk USA’

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Dr. Derek Johnson talks with CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

Dr. Derek Johnson talks with CBS4’s Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

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PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – On Friday a woman from Brighton will be getting a life-changing gift — she’ll have a new, free hip just in time for Christmas.

4 On Your Side Health Specialist Kathy Walsh wanted to find out more about the free surgery. It turns out it is one of 200 being done nationwide by doctors volunteering their time and expertise.

For 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, Debra Fullerton is on her feet. She works as a flagger for a construction company. Not a day goes by that she isn’t in pain.

“You know they use a pain scale one to 10,” Fullerton said. “I’m a seven all the time.”

Her problem dates back to her childhood. At 12 she dislocated her left hip.

“Now I’m 48 years old and it’s bone on bone,” she said.

She’s limped along for a number of years, struggling 24/7.

“Sometimes when I’m sleeping, I don’t know how, it comes out of socket and it’ll wake me up.”

Fullerton has needed an operation, but with no insurance and no way to pay she waved it off — until now. On Friday she will have hip replacement surgery at Parker Adventist Hospital. The operation, hospitalization, and before-and-after care won’t cost her a penny.

“This is one of the reasons we go into medicine, is to help people,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Derek Johnson at Parker Adventist Hospital said.

Johnson is doing Fullerton’s surgery and three others for free. He’s a volunteer with Operation Walk USA. This Friday he’ll join more than 100 surgeons across the country in providing joint replacements for 200 people in need.

“For me to give up one day of my life to impact someone else’s life for 10, 15, 20 years or more, it’s really an easy decision,” Johnson said.

Fullerton is nervous but excited.

“It is quite a blessing,” she said.

She is thankful and looking forward to finally being pain free.

In addition to the four surgeries at Parker Adventist, orthopedic surgeons at Porter Adventist Hospital will do 11 free surgeries on Friday.

LINK: Operation Walk USA

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