Thankful for life-changing surgeries

November 24, 2010 3:14:29 PM PST
A lot of people are giving thanks this week, and that includes some Newark residents for whom every step was a painful move.

Now they're pain-free, and it's all because of free surgeries.

Just 2 days after a partial knee replacement, Jwyanza Kojo's pain is much better and his future much brighter.

A mechanic by trade, but an old basketball injury made it impossible to do his job.

He was out of work and facing a 23-thousand dollar surgery with no insurance.

That's where Dr. Richard Boiardo and Operation Walk came in.

Operation walk is a national program where people unable to pay for life changing knee and hip surgeries get them free of charge.

Dr. Boiardo was a part of the program in Vietnam and brought it to Newark to Saint Michael's Medical Center where he is chief of orthopedics.

"I was born a couple of blocks from here, grew up here, did construction in high school. To be able to give back to this community means a lot personally," Boiardo said.

The doctor and his staff did three Operation Walk surgeries this week. Jwyanza's was done with robotic technology. Dr. Boiardo was the first to bring that to New Jersey.

Maria Ferrerra got a new hip and a new lease on life. She's going home today. Her gratitude is enormous.

"Thank you so much. You really came through for me," she told the doctor.

Construction worker Wayne Payton got a complete knee replacement.

"You gave me another chance to get a job, to take care of my family, to walk again," Payton said.

Life changing for Wayne, for Maria and for Jwyanza, who says he plans on giving back Saint Michael's just as soon as he can.

"I have to come back here and volunteer work to payback for this," he said.

Dr. Boiardo is thankful too that he was able to do these surgeries and for the team around him. No doubt everyone involved will feel that much more thankful this Thanksgiving.

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