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Syracuse Medical Team Heading to Guatemala to Replace Hips, Knees, Other Joints Free for the Needy

Amari Pollard

All hands were on deck this morning as Syracuse's Operation Walk Cargo Team unloaded and packed 16-thousand pounds of medical supplies for their upcoming service trip to Guatmela. A team of 50 people…from surgeons and nurses to cardiologists and physical therapists will make the journey south in a few weeks.  

  Director Kimberly Murray says the group hopes to treat 75 patients in need of hip and knee replacements, and complete 90 or more free surgeries. 

"We have to get the guarantee from the hospital that there will be no charges to that patient.   We go to destinations and hospitals where there's a team able to do the screening for us.  We review the criteria, the kinds  of patients it would  be optimal for us to be able to do surgery on.  It's local people who are very needy in terms of medical needs, financial needs who otherwise would not have access to joint replacement surgery."

Operation Walk is a not-for-profit volunteer medical services organization that offers free surgical treatments for patients in underdeveloped countries. Hundreds of patient operations have been completed in countries such as Cuba, Nepal and Panama. Operation Walk Syracuse’s Blogger and photographer Frank Panzetta is looking forward to traveling to Guatemala for his third trip with the organization.

"It is inspiring for a variety of different reasons...not only the ability to help folks who might not have received the help, but the ability to work with people in different ways in a different part of the world.  You start to build different relationships, and that makes it really special."

Syracuse's Operation Walk Team leaves for its 10-day mission trip at the end of August. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. Unable to bring myself to leave the area and drawn to Le Moyne's communication and athletic programs, I decided to attend Le Moyne College where I am now a junior communications major. While at Le Moyne I have dedicated most of my time to being a midfielder on the women's lacrosse team and the News and Features Editor of the school newspaper, The Dolphin. Since I was a little girl, I have been passionate about reading and writing, fascinated by the power words have to connect us and make the world feel a little bit smaller. From that passion stemmed an interest in radio and how people are able to communicate, not just through spoken word, but through music as well.