We dedicate this update letter to Jessica Gaby, who lost her battle with bone cancer last week at age 15. We fit her with an above-knee prosthesis in February, thanks to the generous donations of many of you, and she was able to walk for the last six months of her life. Her mom brought her prosthesis to the clinic so that we will be able to help others.
We are into the second week of the ten week prosthetics course in collaboration with Universidad Tecnica del Norte. We have four students who have a background in physical therapy and who seem very bright, knowledgeable, and capable. Meanwhile with our volunteers from the US and with our regular crew here we are also continuing to take care of the patients who come in. The students are very serious, eager to learn, and not afraid to jump in and get their hands dirty.Already they have been exposed to very complex cases that we rarely see in the US. In the first week we have seen a trilateral amputee, two lower limb bilateral amputees, a hip disarticulation (through hip) with above knee amputation on the other side, and bilateral upper limb amputee. A nine year old bilateral above-knee amputee with very short limbs was fit like a bilateral hip disartic with stubbies. She immediately learned to put on the prosthesis independently from her wheelchair. Modifications will take place weekly. These are the typical challenges that an Ecuadorian prosthetist is faced with. The cases are very complicated but because the patients are mostly young and in good health, they become very good prosthetic users.
So far two American professionals have been here to help with the course: Trace Klein, CP from Las Vegas and Zack Simmons, Prosthetic Technician from Goshen NY/Trace has vast experience and is extremely creative with finding a solution for every type of situation, both upper and lower limb. Zack has jumped right in and skillfully demonstrated the methods the students need to use for fabrication. This course could not be what it is without their assistance and generosity. We are looking forward to having several more volunteers, both Americans and Ecuadorans, to help us and to teach other aspects of prosthetics. Kit Frank, OTR