The program was only one day a year to start and has expanded to a week, Lombardi said, noting more than 500 people apply for help each year. Beyond the no-cost surgeries the group performs, Lombardi said they help another 25 or so qualify for Medicare and other government assistance to help pay for the cost of orthopedic care.
Arthritic disease is the most common cause of disability in the U.S., affecting approximately 48 million Americans. The debilitating pain of end-stage hip or knee degenerative disease often makes working, or doing simple daily tasks, excruciatingly painful or impossible.
Joint replacement surgeries are an effective way to treat arthritic conditions but Lombardi said a single knee replacement can cost upwards of $50,000. Even for those who have insurance, the out-of-pocket costs can put surgery out of financial reach.
Murray found her way to OWUSA through a Facebook campaign started by her daughter Kelly, who started asking for ideas and donations to help her mom cover medical expenses for her knees.
"She's getting married in January 2015 and she really wants me to be able to dance at her wedding," Murray said.
A friend saw the post and put her in touch with Scuderi. After an interview and complete medical exam, Murray said she was overjoyed to learn she'd be getting new knees.
"I feel this is a miracle and Dr. Scuderi is an angel. This has completely changed my life," Murray said. "I'll be dancing at my daughter's wedding."