June 26, 2023

Legs4Africa’s Prosthetic Collection at Swansea Clinic: Changing Lives through Recycling

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Recently, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Artificial Limb and Appliance Service (ALAS) contributed to Legs4Africa.

Historically, prosthetic limbs rendered unsuitable for use were either discarded as general waste or recycled into raw materials. However, Legs4Africa recognized the potential to repurpose these limbs by using the salvaged components in constructing new prostheses for patients in developing countries. This approach not only provides mobility to amputees in need but also prevents the wasteful disposal of prosthetic limbs and reduces the burden on storage facilities.

Advanced prosthetist Paul Drayton, from ALAS, emphasized the importance of decontamination and reassessment of mechanical integrity before shipping the donated limb components to Africa. Legs4Africa ensures that the parts undergo intensive decontamination and meticulous evaluation, guaranteeing the quality and safety of the final prosthetic limbs. This meticulous process enables the construction of complete limbs for individuals in poverty-stricken regions, offering them the opportunity to regain mobility.

Through door-to-door courier services, Legs4Africa delivers boxes of prosthetic leg parts and materials like stump socks to even the most remote areas and marginalized communities. This extensive reach ensures that no individual is left behind, and access to prosthetic devices becomes a reality for those who need them the most. Moreover, Legs4Africa facilitates the formation of advocacy groups, providing emotional support and peer counselling to amputees, fostering a sense of community and empowerment.

ALAS recognizes the importance of managing medical devices throughout their life cycle, including their disposal. Recently, the service obtained certification enabling the safe donation of previously used prosthetic devices to Legs4Africa. This certification assures patients of the safe design, manufacture, and provision of limbs and accessories from ALAS, while also ensuring compliance with evolving medical devices regulations.

The collaboration between Legs4Africa and Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Artificial Limb and Appliance Service represents a powerful synergy in transforming lives. Through the recycling of prosthetic limbs, these organizations are providing affordable rehabilitation, empowering amputees, and offering a renewed sense of hope and independence. With the support of generous donors and dedicated professionals, Legs4Africa continues to make strides toward making prosthetic devices more accessible for individuals in need throughout Africa.

Naomi Bowey and Tom Williams of Legs4Africa, with Peter McCarthy and Paul Drayton of ALAS