Prosthetic hands and arms made with a 3D printer

by Bolivians Without Disabilities
Prosthetic hands and arms made with a 3D printer
Prosthetic hands and arms made with a 3D printer
Prosthetic hands and arms made with a 3D printer
Prosthetic hands and arms made with a 3D printer

Mateo is a young 28-year-old Bolivian male from Beni (Warnes). His left forearm was amputated in March of 2020 after Mateo suffered a labor accident. He was a daily worker without a formal contract and one day, as a consequence of technical negligence, he slipped into the soybean conveyor which trapped his arm, destroying it completely.

Mateo does not own a freezer to store food, which shows that his resources are limited. Furthermore, we believe that Mateo could be far more happy and productive in his household with a prosthesis, which he could never afford without Bolivians Without Disabilities’ support.

Mateo studied until secondary school and worked as an industrial mechanic before his accident. Now, his life partner is supporting both of them, earning just enough to live thanks to her job as a soft drinks seller. Neither of them have parents or children, which made the tragedy even more difficult to overcome.

After receiving the prosthesis, Mateo wants to go back to work. He needs a prosthesis that would be both functional and aesthetic. For the moment, he is not working anymore and feels powerless. He explains in his initial evaluation:

“My life changed completely. I can’t work anymore, I can’t do anything.”

Bolivians Without Disabilities paid for an arm and cosmetic hand to be made for Mateo, which he received on May 19, 2021. He was very impressed by the realism of his new hand, when he received his prosthesis, he said:

“I’m going to show it off, now I’m going to walk down the street with more confidence. I will stop hiding my arm because I always had it covered with something. You know, people are very mean, they used to stare at me and the most important thing is that I will be able to look for a job with more confidence.”

He also had a special message for Bolivians Without Disabilities: “Thank you very much, may God bless you and may you continue to help people who need support.”

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The Prosthetics
The Prosthetics

Fernando is 30 years old. His profession was agricultural veterinary. A field that he was able to enter after years of study.  He is from a tiny town in the lowlands of Bolivia.  Fernando only lives with his wife and no children.

Fernando accidentally injured his right hand, and he lost parts of 3 fingers in October 2019. The accident occurred while he was walking to the market on a beautiful spring day.  During that fateful outing, he happened to notice a metal object on the ground.  Out of curiosity, he bent down and picked it up.  Unfortunately, it turned out to be an explosive. In Bolivia, explosives are quite common and unregulated.  They are frequently used in the mining industry by individual family miners - even young boys use dynamite when working in the mines.  Sometimes the dynamite doesn't go off as planned, and then it is casually discarded.   

Luckily for Fernando, it was not a large explosion, and it "only" blew 3 of his fingers off.  Fernando was bleeding and in agony, but he managed to stagger home.

Fortunately, a friend of Fernando heard of an organization in Bolivia that makes prosthetic fingers, hands, and arms using 3D printers.  That organization is called CreoTec.  Bolivians Without disAbilities supports CreoTec by providing funds to make prosthetic limbs for patients like Fernando.  After an extensive evaluation, it was decided that Fernando would make great use of three prosthetic fingers.  As you can see in the photo, Fernando can once again write with his hand, and he can now believe in his future again.

Fernando Using His Prosthetics
Fernando Using His Prosthetics
Fernando in the Hospital
Fernando in the Hospital

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Rogelio shown missing hand
Rogelio shown missing hand

This is the story of Rogelio, a young man who lost his hand in a tragic accident.
"My name is Rogelio, I live behind Mt. Illimani, Bolivia, in a small town called Coni in the Tiwanaku Community and I work in agriculture. My hand was destroyed on the anniversary of my village when we were setting off fireworks. I was lighting one, saw the sparks, and tried to throw it away. But it exploded in the instant while it was still in my hand. When I woke up I felt intense pain and I saw what remained of my hand. I remember that I cried and wanted to kill myself. Then I remembered my children, they needed me and that gave me the strength to live on.

After the accident, I was brought to the hospital where I stayed for almost two weeks. They amputated the rest of my hand and closed the wound. I should have stayed longer but I had to get back to my family. So I spoke to the doctor and told him that I felt fine and I was ready to leave, but the truth was that I was still really suffering from pain. I also could not afford to stay longer.

When I returned home, it was very hard to return to "normal". I couldn't write or sign anything anymore. In the village, the children asked their mothers why I didn't have my hand. And the mothers would sometimes say, "He must have been a thief and that is what happens when you steal - so don't steal or they will cut off your hands". The children stared at me and I felt like such an outcast. That's why is why I hid my hand in my pocket ever since.

But in 2020 my luck changed and I received a prosthetic hand with the help of Bolivians Without Disabilities, in the USA.

When I returned home again, with my new prosthetic limb, I wanted to see the look on my children's faces when they saw my new hand. I wanted to see what my children would say because it's identical to the other hand I have.

Today, I am leaving and feeling complete once again. I won't have to hide my hand, nor cloak my arm always in a jacket. I hope that many other amputees can be helped so that they can put the pieces of their lives back together. This hand is a blessing. I had been very sad, but for the first time in a long time, I feel happy and optimistic again. Thank you for helping make this dream come true.

Rogelio showing new hand
Rogelio showing new hand
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Abel, a 25-year-old worked in agriculture and security in the Yungas region of Bolivia. One sad day he was part of a horrific dynamic explosion.

Prior to the explosion, on a happy Saturday after noon, Abel was swimming in a local river with his friends. Upon leaving, they noticed an object on the ground that looked like fireworks. Abel, accepting a dare from his friends to light it, received the impact of the devastating explosion directly. His friends, assuming he passed away due to the blood on his hands, chest, and face left him for dead and ran away in fear.

Luckily, that evening, two women passing by noticed him, called the police, and took him to the hospital. To pay the bills, his family had to sell their cows, one of their main sources of income. The event caused Abel to not only have affected vision but to lose both his arms.

However, despite the explosion, Abel and his family still have hope about his future with a prosthetic implant. Bolivians With disAbilities, working with CreoBolivia, has been able to provide two prosthetic arms to Abel.

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Organization Information

Bolivians Without Disabilities

Location: Indn Hbr Bch, FL - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Bolivians_Disab
Project Leader:
matthew pepe
Indn Hbr Bch, FL United States
$853 raised of $15,000 goal
 
9 donations
$14,147 to go
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