Walks of life

January 13, 2014

Dr. Thomas Greidanus among patients in Ecuador

Edmonton physician Dr. Thomas H. Greidanus puts his orthopedic expertise to work for the people of Ecuador.

He was inspired to create Operation Esperanza, an organization dedicated to helping the people of Cuenca.

We have an incredible team with such amazing spirit, who really care for and connect with the patients. We all give a lot, but we get so much back in return.

VIDEO

The EMAS Ecuador mission team performs numerous orthopaedic surgeries, often changing people's lives forever, with the increased mobility. See video of a woman walking and even dancing following hip and knee replacement surgery.

Without access to essential surgical and medical interventions, many people in Cuenca, Ecuador, are condemned to life in wheelchairs – a fate that can leave entire families financially destitute.

It was this reality that inspired Dr. Thomas H. Greidanus, an Edmonton orthopedic surgeon, to create Operation Esperanza, an organization dedicated to helping the people of Cuenca.

“We see many women who are in their early 30s with arthritis in one or both hips,” explains Dr. Greidanus. “And then they can’t work, they can’t look after their families and often they are abandoned by their husbands because of it. Having a hip replacement is life changing, not only because the pain is gone, but because it gives them back their lives.”

Each year, Dr. Greidanus leads a multidisciplinary medical mission to Cuenca to offer medical care and pediatric and adult surgeries that might otherwise be out of reach.

Over the past 16 years, he and his team have seen as many as 250 patients each visit and performed dozens of surgeries for patients living with debilitating conditions. They’ve also worked to help educate and inform the people of Cuenca on how to prevent hip injuries.

“We noticed early on that way they wrap their babies or carry them in slings increases their risk for dislocated hips. We know that it’s difficult to change the things they’ve learned from their mothers and grandmothers, and that’s why education is key.”

Although coordinating the travel arrangements and overseeing the donation and transportation of necessary equipment and medication requires considerable time and effort from Dr. Greidanus, he stresses that it’s worth it.

“It’s been so rewarding to be able to help people who would never be able to have this kind of surgery,” he notes. “We have an incredible team with such amazing spirit, who really care for and connect with the patients. We all give a lot, but we get so much back in return.”

An annual fundraising event is held each year to support Operation Esperanza’s ongoing work.

More about this initiative

The AMA advances patient-centered, quality care by advocating for and supporting physician leadership and wellness.