Child amputees in India
HEAL UK Technical Director Colin Charlton spent a day visiting the new artificial limb centre at Paradise Village, Andhra Pradesh, and here gives a personal insight into the work being carried out there
FOR too many children in India the problem of growing up with a missing limb is a reality. In a society where poverty abounds, children who have lost a limb may be destined for a life of begging on the streets. BUT this does not have to be the case. Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope, working with HEAL, delivers real hope to the child amputees that they can reach.
I volunteer for HEAL UK and spend a month each year going out to a children’s village (Heal Paradise, Andhra Pradesh, India) to help teach children. I have been privileged to see at first hand one of the Limb Centre clinics there run by Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope and HEAL.
On November 26, 2016, I saw 12 children helped by Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope. These children were seen in the clinic at HEAL Paradise Village by a UK consultant in rehabilitation.
Some of the children were attending for the first time. One six year old boy was Valentine. When he was just 15 days old he was thrown on a rubbish dump. His parents probably could not envisage a future for a child born without arms or legs.
Jacques rescued Valentine from the dump and raised him. Jacques heard about the limb centre at HEAL village run with the support of Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope and brought him to the centre. That day Valentine had two artificial legs fitted and took his first steps with his limbs.
The consultant advised Jacques to gradually build up Valentine’s use of the limbs starting with half an hour per day. Valentine was overjoyed and could not wait to get going. Unaided he worked himself along the rail outside, taking tiny steps as he held on with his little stumps of arms. Such determination brought tears to my eyes.
In another new case, a beautiful girl was fitted with a leg. She had been pushed off an overcrowded train. The new limb will help restore her confidence and increase her mobility. The cosmetic impact on young people of gaining a limb cannot be underestimated.
One teenage boy had lost both his legs in a car accident several years ago. He had been fitted with two new limbs at the clinic six months previously. He was attending for a review appointment. He was now able to walk one kilometre to college every day unassisted enabling him to resume his engineering studies with the prospect of a good job in the future.
The artificial limbs for these children are developed at the limb centre by a skilled technician. Best practice is maintained with the voluntary assistance of a consultant medic in rehabilitation from Manchester, UK. The limbs produced in the workshop are eagerly awaited by their future owners.
The service is offered free of charge. Without this service these children would have to face life without a functioning limb. On the day I attended 12 children received life-changing support as a result of Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope.