Carteret Co. residents get free surgery thanks to local surgeons, Operation Walk USA

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With the holiday season here, two people have something to be very thankful for.

Two Carteret County patients, who otherwise wouldn't be able to have surgery on their hips, were selected as part of Operation Walk USA, which helps provide orthopedic surgery and physical therapy at no cost.

Phillip Carawan is one of two people who is now working on regaining mobility after having a total hip replacement.

"Post surgery I already feel better. I feel like I'm more than halfway there, as far as getting back to my daily routine," said Carawan. "I'm looking forward to finishing up my physical therapy."

Operation Walk USA will pay for hip and knee replacements at no cost to the patient. Their hospital stay is taken care of, as well as physical therapy costs.

"This year we participated in a national program for the third year in a row," said Dr. Robert Coles.

The surgeons who perform the operations also donate their time. Dr. Robert Coles and Dr. Thomas Bates have both participated.

"It's definitely very rewarding and when it comes to me, it's basically something that I love to do," said Dr. Thomas Bates. "You know, just donating my time and my expertise."

It's because of efforts by surgeons like Dr. Bates that patients can live their lives pain free.

"I feel very fortunate, first off. Fortunate to be a part of this program," said Carawan. "It's been wonderful. It's been a miracle actually and something we prayed for."

Six people in Carteret County have now received surgeries as part of Operation Walk USA. Overall, the organization has helped more than 500 people regain their mobility.