Through generosity and hope, a young woman’s life is transformed

January 18, 2022
Charlie Yang, MD

Shanyce Wright, 24, of Centennial, Colorado has always had a strong spiritual base and sunny disposition. “I believe whatever is meant to be is going to be and I just need to be patient. My family has that strong base too and it just keeps me balanced.”

That disposition has certainly helped as Shanyce has had to navigate several health conditions starting in 2014 when she was diagnosed with systemic lupus immediately after graduating from high school in Jamaica. She was put on high doses of prednisone for a few months which led to her losing bone - a side effect of the drug. She managed her condition for a few years while also enduring pain in the hip, knees, wrists, and ankles. She couldn’t step on her right leg or lay on her right side.Shanyce Wright, 24, of Centennial, Colorado cooking at home

In 2015 she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The next year she started nursing school in the West Indies and eventually had difficulty getting up from a seated position and walking at all. 

It became so painful and severe that she went for x-rays and was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the right femoral hip. She had been recommended by her rheumatologist to an orthopaedic surgeon who said she was too young for joint replacement, so they did a bone graft in 2016. 

“I wouldn’t say it was highly effective. I was in nursing school and on crutches traveling an hour to school in the mornings. But after six to seven months, I was off the crutches and walking better without the same pain.” 

But by 2017 she noticed that her right leg was getting shorter and had pains again. She was told by her doctor that her legs were the same length, but she got a second opinion. “I know my body and knew something was wrong.” The second opinion confirmed that indeed her leg was getting shorter because her right hip was fixed and not moving. “That made everything harder for me.”

Shanyce graduated from nursing school but continued to endure major discomfort. In 2020 she moved to the United States to live with her mother. She arrived during the pandemic though she didn’t apply for a nursing job as she just couldn’t do it given her physical challenges. Despite all of this she kept her steady disposition and applied for jobs she could do from home. 

While browsing social media she came across the story of another woman who received care from Operation Walk USA, a program that provides free joint replacements during the first week of December each year for patients who can’t afford them. She decided to apply and was accepted. “I didn’t believe it and I had to call to reconfirm. It was when I went to the hospital and got my first checkup that I realized it was all true.”

Just this past year, Dr. Charlie Yang of Colorado Joint Replacement (CJR) at Centura Health performed a life-changing hip replacement surgery on Shanyce. Colorado Joint Replacement is a world-renowned practice built on a strong foundation of education, research, and passion. In fact, Dr. Douglas Dennis, the founding physician of CJR, founded the Denver Chapter of Operation Walk in 2003. His goal was to bring a wide range of knowledge and expertise to impoverished countries to help disabled patients, like Shanyce, walk again without pain. 

What lies ahead for Shanyce? “I want to submit the right documents, apply for my entrance exam, and return to nursing. I became interested in the profession after learning so much about my own health from a nurse at one of the early hospitals where I received care. She’s retired now and doesn’t know but one day I hope to find her.”

Shanyce is healing well and looks forward to checking items off her bucket list that include zip lining and skiing – both activities she’s wanted to pursue since high school. “It’s been years of pain –  it can go only go up from here!”