DENVER -- Terry Bothern is a firefighter for the Clear Creek Fire Authority and a heavy equipment operator for St. Mary’s Glacier Metropolitan District who has had terrible knee pain for 15 years.
“It was excruciating,” Bothern said.
The problem was, he had no health insurance and could not afford to pay for surgery, so he just lived with the pain.
“Trying to fight fires, it would sort of buckle on me,” Bothern said.
But this month, his life changed. He finally got his surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver on Dec. 7.
The whole things was covered by Operation Walk USA, a medical humanitarian organization that provides free joint replacements for people who meet certain criteria.
Dr. Jason Jennings of Colorado Joint Replacement at Porter Adventist Hospital performed the surgery.
“Terry is doing very well five days out,” Jennings said.
One week out of the year, he and his partners donate their time to perform the surgeries for people who qualify through Operation Walk USA.
“We like to do charitable work and we like to give back to what's been given to us,” Jennings said.
Bothern is so grateful, he is teary-eyed as he talks about feeling blessed, and his goals to “be able to be with my brothers and sisters back on the front lines again, playing with my grandson, getting my life back."
Soon he’ll be back in the mountains doing all the things he loves to do.
Operation Walk USA has doctors who perform joint replacements across the country. The group also has an international component that performs surgeries for people in need around the world.
The website says it considers applicants who do not qualify for government assistance programs and cannot afford surgery on their own.