There aren’t too many health initiatives that provide free surgery, so Maryland orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rinelda Horton is trying something new. Horton’s group, Women Orthopedist Global Outreach (WOGO), is a not-for-profit volunteer medical service organization and the newest member of Operation Walk. Operation Walk is the 16-year-old non-profit volunteer medical service group that provides free surgical treatment in developing countries and occasionally in the United States for patients who have no access to care for arthritis and other debilitating bone and joint conditions.

Horton, a fellowship-trained surgeon in the Orthopedics Department at the Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic Medical Group in Maryland, will travel to Kathmandu, Nepal along with four other fellowship-trained female orthopedic surgeons in September. The group will perform free joint replacement surgeries and train and mentor in-country surgeons and healthcare workers. WOGO’s Nepal destination will fill a huge need for one of the poorest countries in the world. Most Nepalese live on less than $1 per day and a rural woman’s average work day extends up to 11.44 hours, making them likely candidates for arthritis and other joint problems.

Joining forces with WOGO was an easy decision for Horton, who admits that women often put themselves last in order to take care of their families first. Giving back to those women who know the ins and outs of sacrifice was something that each member of WOGO came to full agreement upon.

“We were all involved in a panel about women’s health and knee replacements,” Horton said. “Someone suggested that we should get together and go on a mission trip and do knee replacements on other women in underdeveloped countries who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have the operation.”

Breaking new ground is nothing out of the ordinary for Horton. She graduated as the only African-American woman in her orthopedic residency group and she also became the first African-American woman to complete a fellowship in joint replacement surgery at the University Hospital of Cleveland.

Becoming a doctor has always been a lifelong goal of Horton’s and her efforts along with the other women of WOGO will continue a long line of impressive achievements for the heavily acclaimed surgeon. With her initial objective complete, Horton will now shift her aspirations into a new direction.

“My personal goal for this trip is to empower other women and to transform the lives of the women in Nepal who suffer from severe arthritis.”

To help transform a woman’s life, help her to walk without chronic pain or eliminate her disability, and restore her ability to take care of her family and play an important role in her community, please make donations to WOGO at


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO