Prosthetic limbs give amputee patients hope for future
By Jennifer Browning
She woke up in darkness, with rubble all around her. She could hear others talking and just below her a baby was crying. The last thing she remembers was putting on her clothes after a shower the day that the earth ruptured Port-au-Prince
Twenty-seven year-old Violette Saint Germaine’s four-story building had collapsed around her.
Soon after she could hear neighbors asking where she was located in the rubble. Slowly, piece by piece little specks of light appeared from several flashlights above. She was found. But there was a problem. A large piece of cement pinned her inside the rubble that used to be her home. Her rescuers tried for hours to remove the large debris to free her, but it was too heavy. Her neighbor went off in search for help to find someone…..something to free Violette.
Night fell and she laid there in darkness. She knew something must be wrong because she couldn’t feel her leg below her knee. She began to sing church hymns.
“I sang to pass the time and sang to God to make it better,” Violette said. “I sang to God to bring someone to help me.”
Violette sang for four more days before her neighbors could find someone to move heavy concrete that kept her a prisoner in the rubble.
She arrived at a hospital clinic in Delmas, where doctors treated her for a crushed leg. In the early weeks, doctors felt that they could save her leg, but two weeks ago her injury worsened. She was sent to the Project Medishare Hospital where doctors determined serious infection had set in and a portion of her leg would need to be amputated.
As she woke from the anesthesia, she wondered how she would support herself and her mother. How would she continue to carry her fruit to sell at the market if she could not walk?
“I wondered what can I do? How will my family live if I cannot work?” she said.
Three weeks ago a doctor stopped by Violette’s cot in the adult ward. He showed her a prosethetic leg and explained how this might help her live a more normal life.
“It gave me hope,” Violette said. “With this the doctor said I could walk and in time go back to the market to earn money so that my mother and I can live.”
Weeks after the earthquake Project Medishare purchased 500 artificial legs to help people like Violette. University of Miami’s Dr. Robert Gailey and prosthetist Adam Finnieston, flew to Port-au-Prince with 25 of the prosthetic legs to begin fitting amputee patients.
They plan to test the Finnieston’s company’s BioSculptor system. The system uses technology that uses a portable scanner to transmit 3-D images of residual limbs to the prosthetic factory in Hialeah, Fla. to create custom-fit sockets for them.
The plan is to eventually teach the system to Haitian prosthetic technicians.
“If we teach them to care for themselves,” Dr. Gailey said in a Miami-Herald article earlier this week, “they can become an independent nation.”
Project Medishare is keeping our promise to stick by Haiti through this trying time. While there is progress being made for our patients, we still have a long road to go which means we still need your support.
Click here to read the full article in the Miami-Herald.