The patients of Operation Footprint are among the most humble and caring people in the world. Unfortunately, they are also among the most medically challenged.
The majority of our patients and their families live below the poverty level, with minimal education, poor housing, and poor diet. As a result they rely heavily on work for their daily survival. If their children are the patients, parents are even more pressured to both provide care for the children and meet their financial challenge. Furthermore, many live a considerable distance from a source of medical care, let alone the specialty care required for their conditions. These harsh realities combine to outweigh the ability for these people to obtain proper care for themselves or their children – ultimately, handicapping them for life.
Operation Footprint cooperates with the local medical community, support groups, outreach programs and Rotary clubs to help alleviate these challenged families’ burden. Months before our surgical session, the community is informed that help is on its way. Where needed, arrangements are made locally for patient transportation and lodging, both before and after their surgical care – all at no cost.
We at Operation Footprint have long been aware that we impact more than just patients with foot and ankle deformities. Operation Footprint impacts whole lives. In the final analysis, if they can walk, they can work and be integrated into their community socially and financially.
In 1976 a group of Southern California Podiatrists formed the Baja Project For Crippled Children, Inc. and began to treat children in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico who had been born with congenital clubfoot deformity and had no other recourse for treatment. At that time these children received no therapy for their conditions which remained neglected and these congenital deformities grew into severe rigid deformities as these children became adolescents and adults.
Doctors from Southern California would visit a local clinic in Mexicali and each week would provide manipulation and serial casting therapy for approximately 25 children. Those whose deformities were already too severe to respond to such treatment received surgical intervention at La Cruz Roja, the local Red Cross facility by members of the team.
During the 1980’s the project expanded to Tijuana, Mexico. During the period from 1976 through approximately 2002, we treated several thousand children at both sites.
During the 1990’s our team went to San Miguel, El Salvador where many children also had neglected clubfoot deformity, as well as other congenital and neuromuscular deformities. During our week long mission we would operate on more than 40 children with neglected deformities.
In 2002 we were invited by the Tegucigalpa Rotary Club and Hospital San Felipe in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to hold an annual week-long surgical mission there. Since then approximately 750 children have been operated on for the correction of neglected clubfoot deformity, as well as other neuromuscular deformities of the feet and legs. In January 2019 another 35 children received surgical treatment for neglected foot deformities.
Additionally, we present demonstrations and lectures to train Honduran physicians, residents-in-training, and nurses how to recognize and treat club foot deformity in the Ponseti method of manipulation and casting so as to prevent these deformities from going untreated.
Through our sponsors we have been able to deliver casting materials so these treatments are available at the hospital with an orthopedist’s supervision. Because we no longer restrict our efforts to Baja California, we decided to change our name to Operation Footprint, Inc.