As a manufacturer of prosthetic products, we frequently receive calls and e-mails from either amputees themselves or from someone who has an amputee in their family about what they can do with old prostheses. The prostheses could be from young amputees who have outgrown them or could have been used by a loved one who has passed away. By donating a prosthesis, or even individual prosthetic products, you can help an amputee regain functionality, livelihood, and self-confidence.
What to donate
First, make sure a prosthesis is clean and in working order. If any part of it is broken, that component of the total prosthesis may not be useful to others. To clean components, wipe devices down with warm water or disinfecting wipes. Do not immerse in water and do not use soap. Obviously, any electronic devices should not be cleaned with water.
If you are donating a prosthetic device that utilizes electronics, be sure to include any chargers, instructions, or accessories with the donation. Sockets, and prosthetic products, such as liners or sleeves, that have been worn and were in direct contact with a person’s skin should not be donated. However, you may donate liners or sleeves that are unopened and have never been worn.
Where to donate
Once you have a prosthesis or individual prosthetic items cleaned and ready to donate, there are a few options of where you can donate. WillowWood regularly donates product to Limbs for Life and Physicians for Peace. Fortunately, these two outstanding humanitarian organizations also accept donations of used prostheses.
Limbs for Life is a global nonprofit organization that serves as a repository for donations of used prosthetic limbs. The prostheses are disassembled and components are sent to clinicians in the U.S. and third-world countries upon request for use in making prosthetic limbs for amputees who cannot afford a prosthesis. Limbs for Life also provides prosthetic care for individuals who cannot otherwise afford it and works to raise awareness of the challenges facing amputees.
Donors of used prosthetic limbs should include their name and contact information in the box before sealing. All donor information is kept strictly confidential by Limbs for Life unless the donor grants permission to release such information. All donor requests for anonymity will be honored, except to the extent that Limbs for Life Foundation is legally required to disclose the identity of donors.
Donations of prosthetic limbs should be shipped to: Limbs for Life Foundation, 218 E. Main Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104. If you have questions or are a clinician interested in requesting donated components for pro bono patients, call 888.235.5462.
Physicians for Peace works in over 20 countries to provide patient care as well as training and support to heath care teams in under served regions. Medical programs include providing prosthetic care for individuals in countries such as Haiti, the Philippines, and Turkey, as well as the crafting of prosthetic limbs. Upon receiving donations of used prostheses, the Physicians for Peace team breaks down the prostheses into individual components, discarding the sockets. Then the items are shipped outside of the U.S. These donations serve two purposes: (1) training of local prosthetic care teams in making prostheses and (2) the rehabilitation of amputees.
“A donation of a limb not only helps an amputee walk again but the training that results is invaluable,” shared Kenneth Hudson, Gifts-In-Kind Manager of the organization’s Global Health Programs. “It is our belief that as this program that we call “Walking Free” continues to grow the impact of the training that is taking place will be felt for many years to come. Our goal is to empower the people that we are training to become trainers themselves. Physicians for Peace lives by the old saying ‘that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime’.”
Donations of used prosthetic limbs to Physicians for Peace may either be shipped or taken to Hanger Clinics which will forward the donation onto Physicians for Peace and provide a donation receipt each donor. To ship donations of prosthetic limbs directly to the Physician for Peace warehouse via USPS, UPS, or FEDEX, please send to: Physicians for Peace, Attn: Kenneth Hudson, 2117 Springfield Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23523.