By Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – This Christmas, a young woman from Denver’s Globeville neighborhood is getting a life-changing gift. An orthopedic surgeon at Porter Adventist Hospital replaced her painful hip with an artificial one free of charge.

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It’s one of about 80 operations being done for needy people across the country thanks to Operation Walk USA.

Occupational Therapist Louise Marshall helps Nancy Rivas-Patlan. (credit: CBS)

Occupational Therapist Louise Marshall helps Nancy Rivas-Patlan. (credit: CBS)

“We’re going to stand up and try to walk,” occupational therapist Louise Marshall told patient Nancy Rivas-Patlan.

Rivas-Patlan is carefully trying out her brand new hip. She gets around slowly with a walker, but this is a big step for the 26-year-old toward finally living a quality life.

“I’ve always had pain. I always had to deal with that,” Rivas-Patlan told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Nancy Rivas-Patlan (credit: CBS)

Nancy Rivas-Patlan (credit: CBS)

Rivas-Patlan was born with hip dysplasia which is abnormal formation of her hip joints.

“I couldn’t run and do much of sports,” said Rivas-Patlan.

Without health insurance, surgery was out of the question.

“Obviously, I don’t have the money for it,” said Rivas-Patlan.

Relief finally came thanks to Dr. Charlie Yang, Orthopedic Surgeon at Porter Adventist Hospital.

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“She now has two brand new hips,” said Yang.

Dr. Charlie Yang (credit: CBS)

Dr. Charlie Yang (credit: CBS)

In 2015, Yang replaced Nancy’s left hip. This week, he replaced her right.

“I never thought that I was going to be able to have this opportunity, you know,” said Rivas-Patlan.

It’s the mission of Operation Walk USA. For a week in December, orthopedic surgeons volunteer their expertise for needy patients, free of charge.

“It’s very gratifying to take care of patients because that’s what we do,” explained Yang.

“I’m so blessed, so thankful,” said Rivas-Patlan. “I sometimes think ‘Is this real?’ you know.”

Dr. Yang says Rivas-Patlan should be walking pain free in 4 to 6 weeks. She can hardly wait.

“I just feel like this is my beginning for a better future,” said Rivas-Patlan.

CBS4's Kathy Walsh interviews Nancy Rivas-Patlan. (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Nancy Rivas-Patlan. (credit: CBS)

Both Porter and Parker Adventist Hospitals take part in Operation Walk USA.

To learn more go to and

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Kathy Walsh is CBS4’s Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.