Nonprofit, volunteers hold prosthetic limb disassembly in Brooklyn
A New York-based nonprofit held a prosthetic limb disassembly event in Brooklyn Saturday.
The group is known for helping amputees in developing countries access prosthetic limbs.
On average, amputees in the U.S. change their prosthetic, or at least some of the parts, every three to five years. Considering that most of them are still usable and in good condition, they can't be resold or reused in the U.S. because of strict regulations.
That means hundreds of thousands of functional prosthetic limbs end up in the garbage or collecting dust in someone's basement.
"There are about between 60 to 100 million amputees in the world, and about 90% of them can't access or afford care. So many of the people who are receiving this equipment can't even afford a bus ticket to the nearest hospital, let alone thousands of dollars for a prosthetic limb," said Henry Iseman, co-founder and executive director of Penta Medical Recycling.
Local kids from the scouting group Outdoor Service Guides helped the nonprofit to take apart each artificial limb. Each component was then labeled and shipped to dozens of partner organizations around the world.
"Mobility is a big part of being a human, so we thought that this disassembling and providing for other people who can't provide for themselves would be a good act for us," said Jackson Heller, scout for Outdoor Service Guides.
Those organizations then find a match and build a new prosthesis for each amputee.
"In providing physical mobility, we're also providing social and economic mobility. These limbs mean the ability to go to school, to find a job, to be accepted in one's community," Iseman said.
He added that in the last four years, they have sent out thousands of limb components to more than 20 countries.
"From South and Central America to Southeast Asia and everywhere in between. This year we've also been sending equipment to Ukraine where there's, of course, been enormous need," Iseman said.
In about an hour, the scouts took apart about 30 legs and the Penta team said all those parts could help up to 90 people.
Even if what they did was just the first step in a long process, it was one that will mean the world to someone in need.
"Getting your leg is life changing. You feel like you can run, you can jump, you can do so many things. It's like getting a piece of yourself back, you know, part of your life," said athlete and motivational speaker Robert Rodriguez.