(WVLT/CBS) -- A surgeon in Nebraska is letting patients pay for surgery by volunteering.
Demetrio Aguila began a new program six months ago at his clinic Healing Hands of Nebraska. The program offers to let patients pay for surgery by volunteering for local humanitarian groups.
"We can't ignore the people in our own backyard," he told CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver. "We want to be able to offer hope to patients who have lost hope medically."
CBS News reported that about 10 percent of his patients qualify for the program. He and his staff calculate the number of volunteer hours required based on the complexity of the surgery.
"I don't care if you're a multi-billionaire or if you're the guy on the street corner with a Styrofoam cup. You get offered the same options. Why? Because it's fair," he said.
Aguila said he hopes the program will inspire other doctors to find creative ways to help patients with their medical expenses.
"This whole practice is about restoring hope for patients by giving them the opportunity to wrest back control of their health care," he said.
Aguila said their program has just eight people, but since he started, Aguila said his stress levels have gone down and his job satisfaction has soared.
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