IRWINDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- More than 20 people at the Kaiser Permanente Irwindale Medical Offices had a life-changing day after they were chosen to receive free surgeries they otherwise couldn't afford.
For Karla Hernandez, the surgery was a saving grace - not only the procedure itself but paying for the treatment.
"Thanks to God, it's free because I don't have insurance and they gave me the opportunity," she said.
The new mother got her hernia fixed thanks to the program that offers free surgical procedures to the uninsured and underinsured in the San Gabriel Valley. All the patients have an income at or below 350% of the federal poverty guidelines and don't qualify for public health assistance.
"Directly, we've probably impacted now over 350 lives as far as actually performing surgery or a procedure on them but the impact really extends beyond that with thousands of volunteers that we've had over the last 13 years," said Dr. Phil Mercado with Kaiser Permanente.
Eleven Kaiser Permanente surgeons, nine anesthesiologists, 36 nurses and 52 other medical professionals donate their time and talents to help those in need.
For many of the patients, their medical problems often prevent them from being able to work or fully function in their lives, making the surgery truly life-changing.
Hernandez said she was excited to get the surgery done and to eventually be able to carry her newborn baby.