The Enable Community Foundation (ECF) are an organization that uses 3D printing in order to create prosthetics for people in the developing world. Recently the non-profit group brought their services to Haiti in order to address the large number of upper-limb (UL) amputees in the country.
3D printing to help Haiti
Haiti has large number of amputees as a result of an earthquake in 2010. Having been injured in the earthquake many of the victims were not immediately given medical attention and by the time they were seen amputation was required. Another factor, as the case with Danis who is now the user of a 3D printed limb, was the need to amputate survivors of the natural disaster in order to free them from the wreckage.
Ostracized from the community
Not only did the earthquake leave many without limbs, it also ostracized many from their local communities. In Haiti, as in some Latin, Arab and African cultures, amputees are associated with stigmas relating to not being ‘whole’ or ‘complete’ and this means they are may be rejected by society. This is what happened to Danis who found herself living on the streets and abandoned by her family. Danis was later found by nuns who put her in touch with members of the ECF who were able to fit her 3D printed arm.
Danis was taking a shower when the earthquake hit six years ago, and upon realizing the tremors rushed to help her niece get out of the building alive. However, Danis could not get herself out in time and was left with one arm trapped below the rubble of her house. In order to escape Danis needed to receive an amateur amputation. Danis was soon fitted with a 3D printed prosthetic and was seemingly ecstatic with it as she says,
I thought the new prosthetic arm was going to be useless, but when I put it on, it felt different from what I thought. I feel comfortable with it. My daughter can actually hold both of my hands now.
Ebewelleda is another example of the remarkable work ECF are doing in Haiti, and she also recently received a 3D printed limb. Ebewelleda was electrocuted while jumping rope on a rooftop. Electrocution being the second most common cause of amputation in Haiti after the earthquake. Following their work with Ebewelleda, the ECF team were inspired to create an arm model named the ‘Ebe arm’. This specific prosthesis model matches skin tone and has a number of customizable options.
The models from Enable Community Foundation are open source and 3D printing is frequently being used for use in prosthetics as similarly Open Bionics are sharing their code for printable prosthesis.
So when you next see the inevitable story about the demise of 3D printing, remember projects like this. If you want to nominate the work of the Enable Community Foundation for one of the 1st Annual 3D Printing Industry Awards, then you can do so here.
Featured image shows Ebewelleda being professionally fitted by ECF’s Joseph Fairley, Prosthetic Technician & Haiti Project Team Leader. Photo via Enable Community Foundation.