JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- First Coast News Hero Central is focusing on a new opportunity to sponsor prosthetic legs for Haiti earthquake victims. It only costs $300 to sponsor one leg, and dozens of people are on the waiting list hoping to walk again.
What is the connection to Jacksonville?
Just four days after the earthquake, retired Jacksonville orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Lovejoy and his team were already in Haiti amputating limbs to save lives.
Their history with Haiti spans several decades. They had already set up a hospital in Milot, about 70 miles out of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. So their medical efforts were up and running even after the quake with generators, lights, and operating equipment.
Now the team has set up a permanent prosthetics lab, and are already making arms and legs for people in Haiti.
The group rallied companies from Atlantic Marine to William Scottsman to Home Depot and others to transform and ship an old banana and pineapple container to Haiti.
All Saints Episcopal Church was a significant part of the help, as well, according to Lovejoy.
The container has been fully outfitted into a prosthetics lab. Prostheticist Mike Richards from APO Prosthetics and Orthotics in Jacksonville supervises the technical end. He also makes the arms and legs.
The goal is to train Haitians to make prosthetic limbs, as well.
Right now Richards and Lovejoy are back from Haiti and talking with great enthusiasm about the first patients fitted with legs.
Richards said one little girl in particular, Neika, really grabbed his heart. Her leg was crushed when her school collapsed, but she wasn't complaining. In fact, she gave Richards a big hug and thanked him for "giving hope" to Haiti.
She spent hours studying how people walked on their new prosthetic legs and just took off with hers, no problem.
If your group would like to give $300 so an amputee in Haiti can walk again, email Jeannie Blaylock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Coast News