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14 March 2014

Nonprofit turns fake legs into custom limbs for amputees in Ghana.

 
It’s a true case of someone’s trash becoming someone else’s treasure.
A Christian nonprofit based in Nashville, Tenn., collects old prosthetic limbs and uses them to change the lives of amputees in Ghana.


Standing With Hope, which was started by Gracie and Peter Rosenberger, dismantles the used artificial legs and sends them to clinics in the West African country.
Gracie (left) and Peter Rosenberger started Standing With Hope, a nonprofit that teaches Ghanaian technicians to make prosthetic legs and provides the necessary materials.

Courtesy of Michael Gomez

Gracie (left) and Peter Rosenberger started Standing With Hope, a nonprofit that teaches Ghanaian technicians to make prosthetic legs and provides the necessary materials.

The organization also teaches the local technicians to build new limbs from the pieces and fit them on patients.
“If I put a leg on someone, yeah he is going to walk, but if I teach someone to put a leg on someone, then hundreds are going to walk,” Peter Rosenberger, 50, told the Daily News.
Gracie Rosenberger came up with the idea for Standing With Hope. The now-48-year-old was in a horrible car accident in 1983. Since then, she has undergone nearly 80 operations and lost both of her legs.
The prosthetic limbs crafted from recycled parts can be put together in six hours.

Courtesy of Standing With Hope

The prosthetic limbs crafted from recycled parts can be put together in six hours.


When she was in her hospital bed recovering from having her right leg amputated — she lost her left leg a few years earlier — Gracie saw a documentary on TV about Princess Diana helping land mine victims, many of whom were missing limbs. She knew she wanted to do something to help
Artificial limbs cannot be reused in the United States for legal reasons, but parts of them can be beneficial in other countries. A number of organizations accept prosthetic body parts and ship them overseas.

Gracie Rosenberger was in a catastrophic car accident when she was 17. Over the next three decades, she has had almost 80 surgeries and lost both of her legs.

Courtesy of Standing With Hope

Gracie Rosenberger was in a catastrophic car accident when she was 17. Over the next three decades, she has had almost 80 surgeries and lost both of her legs.

The Rosenbergers started Standing With Hope in the early 2000s. In the beginning, Gracie, Peter and their two sons would sit around after dinner and disassemble donated legs and feet.
Now, inmate volunteers at a jail in Nashville strip the limbs.

“When I first started doing it, I was taking boxes of legs over to the prison,” Peter Rosenberger said.
Standing With Hope founder Gracie Rosenberger, in the white and pink, walks with a patient in Ghana. Her nonprofit helps equip amputees in the West African country with prosthetic limbs.

Courtesy of Standing With Hope

Standing With Hope founder Gracie Rosenberger, in the white and pink, walks with a patient in Ghana. Her nonprofit helps equip amputees in the West African country with prosthetic limbs.

Operations have since moved out of the Rosenbergers’ garage and to the Metro-Davidson Detention Facility, so the limbs are sent there.

Once the leg parts make it to Ghana, they are transformed into custom limbs in as little as six hours by the Standing With Hope-taught technicians.
“They do the work, we provide training and equipment,” Peter Rosenberger explained.
James S. McElhiney, left, is one of the prosthetic advisors who teach technicians in Ghana how to build, repair and fit the limbs.

Courtesy of Standing With Hope

James S. McElhiney, left, is one of the prosthetic advisors who teach technicians in Ghana how to build, repair and fit the limbs.

A similar limb in the U.S. could cost a patient $7,000, but the prosthetic made in Ghana cost about $350. The government will subsidize limbs for qualified patients, which means they are left with a $100 labor fee mandated by Ghana Health Services.

However, Peter Rosenberger said Standing With Hope will sponsor the patients who cannot afford that.
And their relationship with the patient doesn’t end after he or she gets a new leg. The team follows up with the amputees and their caregivers after they are fitted with their new limb. They have even set up video calls so doctors in the U.S. can help the patients in Ghana.

“We understand at my house the lifetime needs of an amputee,” Peter Rosenberger said. “It's not parachuting in and putting a couple legs on people and saying have a nice life. I have to make sure I can sustain it.”

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