Free hip replacement restores former Sloppy Joe's bartender's hope

Customers used to pull up a chair to joke around with John Lindquist. 
 
"That's what made him a good bartender. He's got an incredibly quick wit,” said Stefen Quinn, bar manager of Sloppy Joe’s Treasure Island.
 
Now the only way he's able to earn a paycheck at Treasure Island's Sloppy Joe's is sitting down.  
 
"He's family, so we just try to get a little creative in finding little niches for him to work,” Quinn said.
 
"When we're busy, he might be rolling silverware on a Saturday night for Sloppy Joe's. If there's a banquet going on at the Bilmar, he might be polishing stemware prior to that. He's worked shifts in our parking lot just checking people into the parking lot,” Quinn said.
 
Lindquist is 47 years old but walks like he's 90.
 
"One day at a time—yes,” he said.
 
A semi-truck cut him off on Interstate 4 nearly 17 years ago.
 
"When I went through the windshield, I cut from here, all the way down from here, up through here and then, through my eye which is why I'm blind,” he said, showing us the scars on his face.
 
But it's his hip putting his life on hold. 
 
"Some days, I don't want to get up and walk,” he said.
 
"Kind've my barometer where I can see his struggle is when he gets in my car. He has to lift his leg to get in my car and every time it happens, every passing month, especially lately, that's getting tougher and tougher for him,” Quinn said.
 
Until today, inside a Bayfront Medical Center operating room where surgeons prepped for an operation.
 
"The amount of bone spurs on there have fused bones together so my right leg is now, one to two, 1 1/4 inches shorter. I've lost all the cartilage in there that keeps the bones from rubbing together,” Lindquist said.
 
"His life is about to change,” Dr. Kurt Hirshorn said.
 
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hirshorn says it’s his privilege to replace John's hip and get rid of bone spurs painfully fusing his bones together.
 
"It's not a risk for me. It's really a reward,” said Dr. Hirshorn.
 
The surgery won't cost John anything else.
 
"You know as a society, I'd like to believe we're doing more giving back. We see people do that in lines in Starbucks even. I do think that they're surprised when an organization of this size does it of this magnitude,” Bayfront Medical Center CEO Kathryn Gillette said.
 
"I never thought today was going to happen,” he said, lying on a pre-op bed.
 
Bayfront is doing four pro-bono surgeries, including John's, and is the first hospital in the Tampa Bay area to sign on with Operation Walk USA.
 
The nationwide effort commits to free surgeries for those who really need them. 
 
"I've been thinking about this guy in particular because he's kind've been neglected, let's just say. And it's amazing how we have a group of people who 
are willing to take him on,” said Dr. Hirshorn.
 
At about noon, surgeons finished-up John's operation, restoring his hip and much more.
 
"It's that they've given me hope,” he said. "It will be nice to know that I can look for other jobs and the mobility."
 
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