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Student Nurses Collect Prostheses for Haiti

Thousands of men, women and children in Haiti not only lost their homes and livelihoods in January’s earthquake: they also lost limbs when their arms or legs got crushed in the debris. KSMU's Chasity Mayes has more on what the Missouri State University-West Plains Student Nurses Association is doing to help these individuals, who are now having to learn to live with a disability.

The student group is teaming up with the Center for Community Engagement and the West Plains Lions to collect used prostheses for Haitian residents who lost limbs during the January earthquake.

Organizers of the project say the drive will continue throughout March. Often it takes weeks, or even months, for wounds from recent amputations to heal enough for a prosthetic device to be fitted. That allows for a longer donation period.

Karla Bean is a member of the Center for Community Engagement and she’s Organizing the project. She says Heather Mills, a former model who currently wears a prosthetic leg, inspired her to start the drive.

“She was on Larry King and talked about how she was hoping people would gather up used prosthetics and turn them into Hanger Prosthetics in different locations for the Haitian amputees. She had done a similar drive for the Sarajevo area. You know, when all the landmines were left after the war. So, I just thought it sounded like a cool idea and I got on the internet and found a Hanger office right there in Springfield and that was the deciding factor,” says Bean.

Bean says they are focusing on receiving donations in the entire Howell County area, which includes drop off sites in Mountain View, Willow Springs, and West Plains, but she says other arrangements can be made by contacting her. In Springfield, anyone who would like to donate an old prosthesis can drop it off directly at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics.

At the end of the drive, the prosthetic devices will be taken to the Hanger office in Springfield where officials will ship them to Physicians for Peace in Haiti. Physicians for Peace has a strong history for providing medical rehabilitation for trauma victims through its “Walking Free Program.” They will be responsible for distributing the prosthetics.

For more information on this program you can contact Karla Bean at 417-256-7530 or Jenny Underwood in Oregon County at 417-264-7977.

For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes