Orthopaedic Angel

Surgeon Ravi Bashyal helps patients in Nepal walk again

Ravi Bashyal operating on a patient Nepalese patients are “living with much more severe deformity and disability than what we see in the U.S.,” says orthopaedic surgeon Ravi Bashyal about his work with Operation Walk Chicago. (Image Courtesy of John Griffin/Operation Walk Chicago)
Surgeon Ravi Bashyal helps patients in Nepal walk again

When orthopaedic surgeon Ravi K. Bashyal, ’01 LAS, responded to an unusual request for a Nepalese interpreter in the NorthShore University HealthSystem clinic where he works in Skokie, Ill., he had no idea it would change his life.

Bashyal, whose father is from Nepal, was asked to translate for a Nepalese patient brought to NorthShore by Operation Walk Chicago, a nonprofit that performs hip and knee replacements, helping disadvantaged patients from around the world to walk again.

The group’s mission immediately resonated with Bashyal; he did volunteer work in Nepal while completing his medical residency in the U.S. “I was really inspired by that journey,” he says. “So, two or three years later, to discover there is an orthopaedic group that has been going to Nepal was serendipitous.”

Over the past 11 years, Bashyal has not only joined the organization’s board of directors, but also traveled with OWC teams to Nepal and Vietnam on 10 medical humanitarian missions, including an emergency trip in response to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015.

During each trip to Nepal Orthopaedic Hospital in Kathmandu, the team performs 40 to 50 joint-replacement surgeries—sometimes by the light of a cell phone when the power goes out. One OWC video shows Bashyal, proudly wearing an Illinois scrub cap, operating on a man whose legs were bowed 60 degrees. “These patients are living with much more severe deformity and disability than what we see in the U.S.,” he says. “In America, we do these surgeries to change lifestyles; here they change lives.”

Over the past decade, the OWC team also has been training the Nepal staff to build their own sustainable joint-replacement program. “That is where the lasting impact is,” Bashyal says.

Bashyal also is grateful for the lasting impact the U of I has had on his life. “I was a kid of immigrants who was given a full-tuition scholarship, which made a huge difference,” he says. “That allowed me to prepare for medical school without worrying about finances. I do whatever I can to impact other people in a similar way.”