Lisa Gaeta, is the founder and chief executive officer of IMPACT Personal Safety-SoCal, a nonprofit whose classes offer assertiveness and awareness skills, boundary-setting, verbal strategies, and full-force physical assailant defense to people of all ages.
But Lisa was considering early retirement from a job—really a cause—about which she is passionate--due to excruciating pain, compromised mobiliy, and the fact that she had no medical insurance to pay for the necessary surgery.
By chance, Lisa learned about Operation Walk, a Los Angeles nonprofit that provides life changing joint replacement surgery free of charge for those in need, primarily in developing countries.
Since its founding in 1996 by Dr. Lawrence Dorr of USC Keck Medical School, Operation Walk’s team of volunteer doctors and nurses has expanded to 16 branches in the U.S. and abroad. It has performed over 10,000 surgeries in Cuba, China, Nepal, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Kenya, Vietnam, Tanzania, Ecuador and India.
When Lisa went for her appointment with Dr. Paul Gilbert, at USC Keck Medical Center, a renowned orthopedic surgeon who has worked as a volunteer with Operation Walk for years, she strove to keep her hopes in check. Could her knee be fixed? And would the hospital be willing to charge her a discounted fee for the expensive surgery?
Lisa was brought to tears when Dr. Gilbert told her that he could replace her knee and that it would be for free.
With her mobility restored, Lisa is no longer thinking about retirement. She is brimming with energy and enthusiasm for work and life.
An additional benefit: Lisa’s “resting face” is no longer tinged with pain. Rather it reflects her happiness and gratitude.