Ty Peck relies on being physically fit to make a living—the 45-year-old is a personal trainer who works with private clients in Westchester, New York. He stays active by lifting weights, mountain biking, hiking and playing golf.
However, last year an old injury to his right knee became so painful he knew he needed to seek medical help. “While I've been athletic my whole life, I’ve been dealing with a football injury since I was 17,” said Ty, adding that he had total reconstructive knee surgery as a teenager. After a couple of years of rehabilitation, he played one year of football in junior college. “I probably shouldn’t have because my knee wasn’t that great, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could come back from a severe injury,” he said. After that, he pursued boxing and had a few bouts in the amateur circuit until his knee pain prevented him from doing so.
Through the years, Ty experienced lingering arthritis but stayed active by modifying his activities. Orthopedists told him he would need a knee replacement, but advised he wait until his 50s because the replacement joint would wear out—making a repeat procedure necessary during his lifetime.
But waiting became increasingly unlikely. Ty’s knee pain started to interfere with his sleep, and he couldn’t be on his feet for long. As a result, he lightened his training schedule. Then in June of 2017, Ty and a friend went hiking at Breakneck Ridge, near Cold Springs in the Hudson Valley. “The trail is straight up for about the first half-mile,” he said. “I was taking big deep steps, and my knee was just obliterated. The pain so was severe, I knew I needed a knee replacement.”
Unfortunately, Ty didn’t have health insurance. His concerned mom Googled “free knee replacement,” and found Operation Walk USA. The organization helps uninsured people receive primary total hip or knee replacement surgeries free of cost. Preoperative clearances and postoperative care are also offered at no cost to eligible candidates.
Ty applied to the program in July and heard back in November that he was accepted. “And we just went from there,” he said. “It was kind of crazy how quickly everything happened.”