A Victoria-based charity is seeking public support to expand its prosthetic limb operation into war-torn Ukraine.
The Victoria Hand Project designs and deploys low-cost, 3D-printed prosthetic arms in eight developing countries and in underserved communities in Canada and the United States.
Lately, CEO Michael Peirone said people have messaged the organization with demand from Ukraine, which has been under siege by Russian troops since February.
“They’re working in the Ukraine or living in the Ukraine and looking for ways to provide prosthetic devices to people who, unfortunately, lost their limb in the war,” Peirone explained.
“We’ve also had some people from the local community contacting us, putting us in touch with certain people who can really help us get started in the region.”
The Victoria Hand Project is asking members of the public with connections to resources or organizations in Ukraine that may be able to help, to reach out and contact them.
Eventually, Peirone said the project would like to equip folks in Ukraine or elsewhere in Eastern Europe with a 3D printer and scanner, and train them on how to produce the prosthetics.
“Right now, we’re really just asking the public for more support and resources to really help us get started in the region,” he told Global News.
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“We’re working for the right clinical partners, the right technology partners to produce and fit these arms in the region, and that’s really one of the most important things we need to get started.”
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According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of mid-July, 11,544 civilian casualties had been recorded in Ukraine: 5,024 deaths and 6,520 injuries.
Victoria Hand Project founder and chief technical officer Nick Dechev said requests from Ukraine have been coming in for “some time,” but the charity hasn’t found the right “opportunity” to help them.
Once it finds the right local partners, it can apply for grants and corporate donations, he explained. The organization also plans to hold a series of fundraisers in September.
“The hands themselves don’t cost very much, it’s more a function of helping to pay the prosthetists that will be working with patients,” said Dechev.
“We don’t have any hard numbers on how many people have lost limbs in Ukraine.”
Other costs include shipping fees for the materials, and transportation and accommodation for patients, he added. Each prosthetic uses about $150-worth of materials.
Worldwide, since 2014, the Victoria Hand Project has fitted more than 200 amputees with prosthetic arms. The charity operates out of the University of Victoria.
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