Sunday, March 6, 2011

Knights of Columbus to unveil state-of-the-art prosthetics and rehabilitation center in Haiti

From the Catholic News Agency:

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- On March 5, the Knights of Columbus will unveil their latest effort to help Haitian children injured in last year's earthquake, with the opening of a state-of-the-art prosthetics and rehabilitation center.

Located in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the Össur International Prosthetics and Orthotics Laboratory is the result of the Knights' partnership with the Iceland-based Össur company – a leading prosthetics manufacturer – and the medical charity Project Medishare. The Challenged Athletes Foundation will also begin offering their assistance in rehabilitating the child amputees.

At Saturday's ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony, the prosthetics company's founder Össur Kristinsson – himself an amputee – will present more than 600 modular prosthetic systems for use by Project Medishare in the “Healing Haiti's Children” program.

A joint project of the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare, the program offers prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation to every child injured in the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.

More than 100 child amputees have already received help and rehabilitation since the program began in the summer of 2010. Each of the children receives a two-year course of free prosthetics and physical therapy.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the head of the Catholic fraternal and charitable organization, said the Knights were “pleased to be able to help to heal those children injured in the devastating earthquake, and to give them renewed hope in the possibility of living life with regained mobility.”

“Providing the limbs, therapy and support to these children is truly a life changing gift,” said Anderson, “and one that we are very pleased to be able to give in partnership with Medishare and with the help of Challenged Athletes Foundation and Össur.”

The new facility is located at Project Medishare's Bernard Mevs Hospital, Haiti's main hospital for pediatric care. The laboratory will employ a number of Haitians to train as prosthetics technicians and assemble the materials provided by Össur.

Through these new jobs, the Knights of Columbus hope to contribute to the greater project of recovery for Haiti, which has faced several crises – including a tropical storm, a cholera epidemic, and political turmoil – since last January's earthquake.

In addition to the “Healing Haiti's Children” project, the Knights of Columbus have also been working to provide more than 2,000 wheelchairs to Haiti, through a partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission.