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High-tech Recycling: HI re-uses donated artificial limbs to help children like Elinah

Prevention Rehabilitation

Volunteer orthopedic specialists in a workshop in Lyon are changing the lives of people around the world by reconditioning valuable prosthetic parts donated by amputees.

Elinah during the first fitting of her recycled prosthesis in Madagascar

Elinah during the first fitting of her recycled prosthesis in Madagascar | © Lumahee / HI, 2020

In countries with comprehensive health infrastructure, people who need an artificial body part – a prosthesis – will regularly receive a new one in order to meet their changing needs. In France, for example, an adult can replace their leg prosthesis every 5 years and children will receive many as they grow.

In contrast, in countries without the facilities, expertise or budgets to provide these services, hundreds of thousands of people do not have access to prostheses at all.

‘The Workshop’ began in 2006 as a way to avoid wasting valuable prosthetic parts that would be invaluable to others.

A small team of expert volunteers run The Workshop on a voluntary basis. Roger Faure is a retired orthopedic specialist who worked for HI for 20 years. He now donates his skills and expertise to turn used prosthetic parts into custom-built prosthesis for beneficiaries around the world.

“Many of the prostheses we receive are in great condition – undamaged, extremely high-quality – and all of the working mechanical parts can be saved. These parts are worth thousands of euros and it is very satisfying to know that they will not go to waste!”

A reconditioned prosthesis can be life-changing for recipients like 6 year old Elinah in Madagascar whose lower leg was amputated following a car accident.

Her mother explained to HI how she felt seeing Elinah struggle without a prosthesis:

“Seeing her hop to get around and being left out made us feel terrible every single day!”

Without The Workshop, Elinah would almost certainly have faced a long wait to receive prosthesis, putting her childhood on hold.

The work of Roger and his colleagues changes her present and her future.

“We are so happy that she now has a prosthesis and will be able to play with her friends”.

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