A UK charity which reuses prosthetic legs has reached a major milestone, having just received its 10,000th leg to repurpose, donated by a 10-year-old boy from Bristol.
In the UK, approximately 5,000 prosthetic legs end up on landfill sites every year. Legs4Africa aims to combat this problem by collecting used prosthetic limbs from individual donors and limb centres to be recycled. The charity collects limbs from across the UK, France, Canada, the US, and Australia, which are then serviced and sent to countries in sub-Saharan Africa where prostheses are desperately needed.
Across Africa, 1.7 million amputees are living without access to prosthetic limbs that could enable them to live independent lives. Founder of Legs4Africa Tom Williams was on a trip to Gambia in 2013 when he met Paul, an amputee who urgently needed a prosthetic leg. Once back in the UK, Tom was able to source a prosthetic limb to allow Paul to walk again. During this process, Tom witnessed the difficulty that millions of people in Africa who have limb differences experience in accessing prosthetics, and decided to launch Legs4Africa.
Once the limbs are collected and shipped to Africa, they are fixed, adapted, and fitted to amputees. Prior to these donations, a prosthetic would cost upwards of £800 in these countries, meaning that they were totally unaffordable for the majority of people who required them. But by recycling parts that would otherwise have gone to waste, Legs4Africa is able to give more amputees a chance at independence.
Simon, who received a limb from Legs4Africa, commented:
When I lost my leg, I thought it would be a disaster for me and my family. But my new prosthetic leg, and my strength, means that I can continue to farm and provide for my wife and children.
Robert, father of 10-year-old Isaac who donated the 10,000th limb to Legs4Africa, commented:
I think it’s become relatively easy, here in the UK, to take having a prosthetic leg for granted, but we are very grateful as a family that Isaac has been given the opportunity to walk with a prosthetic. We are extremely fortunate that we have the NHS in this country and heavily rely on the fantastic services they provide. Therefore, it is a really easy decision for us to donate Isaac’s leg. It gives us great pleasure to know that his leg is being loved and put to good use in The Gambia, than gathering dust in an attic. It would be great to think that in a few months there will be a child kicking a football or riding their bike in the Gambia, wearing Isaac’s donated leg.
Alongside their recycling programme, the charity also works with in-country partners to improve services, create opportunities, and ensure that amputees are supported properly to be able to live independent lives.
To find out more about the work of Legs4Africa, visit: legs4africa.org.