Monday, April 26, 2010

University of Miami provides prosthetics to thousands of amputees in Haiti


MIAMI -- The University of Miami will provide prosthetics to thousands of amputee victims following the earthquake disaster in Haiti.

Months after a powerful earthquake devastated Port-Au-Prince, victims will receive custom-made aid from a manufacturing plant in Hialeah.

In just a few weeks, several boxes filled with finished prosthetic legs will head to Haiti to help hundreds of amputees. "The key is it is water resistant," said Dr. Bob Gailey. "The skin tone, naturally matches the folks of Haiti, and they can wear sandals. It is designed by the people of Haiti by other amputees across the world," said Dr. Bob Gailey.

Gailey is with the UM's Project Medishare. Gailey's been to Haiti and seen the survivors who became instant amputees. "It is not only treating the person physically, but it is treating the family and treating what they think their future holds," he said.

Doctor Gailey said at least 2,000 to 4,000 Haitians lost their limbs in the disaster. "This is the first real disaster where the prosthetic community, not just in the US but throughout the world, is rushing to the aid of the Haitian people," said Gailey.

The UM team uses computer scanning technology to custom-fit the prosthetics.

Roselina lost her left leg to diabetes. She's Haitian and knows how difficult it is to thrive in the country without the use of a limb. "In Haiti, it would be hard to work with one leg," she said.

Medical experts said stress fitting the prosthetics is just the beginning. "It is going to be a lingering service need for years to come. Some of the children that are amputees are going to need legs that are refit as they grow," said Teresa Glynn.

Doctors said the reward is the chance of a brighter tomorrow. "We've been able, in a short amount of time, to get people up and walking, to get them to even kick a ball and run, so don't underestimate what's possible," said Glynn.

The artificial limbs will arrive in Haiti in two weeks. Doctors hope to fit over 1,800 Haitians with artificial limbs in the next year.