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Artificial Limbs Collected for Haitian Amputees

Prosthetic patients across Central Ohio are giving their old artificial limbs to help amputees in earthquake stricken Haiti. A national company is spearheading a drive to get the limbs where they're most needed.

"How are things going with your socket fit and all that, great, yea ."

Tim Riedelinger helps patients at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, like 59 year old Mary Lynn Stoll adjust to their artificial limbs. Stoll has been wearing a prosthetic on her left leg for 14 years. She says she elected to have the amputation after her diabetes interfered with her broken ankle healing. Stoll said she sympathizes with Haitians now facing something similar although they didn't have a choice.

"Such a traumatic thing they didn't have time to prepare for it, I had time to think about what I was going to do. It just happened to them," Stoll said.

The January earthquake in Haiti could lead to as many as 150-thousand amputees. One reason why Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics is collecting prosthetic limbs patients no longer use. Riedlinger said most of the used artificial arms and legs which cost thousands of dollars can be customized for new patients.

"Incorporated into the socket we have what are called gel liners. It's like an artificial layer of fat over the residual limb because these individuals are going to be very scarred. Their surgeries aren't going to be like elective surgeries that we have here in the state and they have a well healed residual limb," Riedlinger said.

Stoll donated four artificial left legs.

"They're in good shape. I mean the component they're going to be using which is the foot and the ankle and the metal part it's like new. Of course they have to use a different socket because they custom make them, but they're in great shape," Stoll said.

Riedlinger said his company set up a clinic near Port au Prince to provide care for amputees.

"If we can get these people back on their feet again and literally help themselves. And that's what we're doing as well is we plan on being there long term but more as a support staff in the future because we're training technicians, we're training Haitians to be practitioners," Said Riedlinger.

Hanger has teamed up with Physicians for Peace to collect the limbs and money to operate the clinic. Already close to 400-thousand dollars worth of equipment has been donated to help Haitians.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.