Last week SBH was thrilled to welcome volunteers from the One Leg Up on Life Foundation to Fond des Blancs. OLUOL was founded in 2015 by US Air Force Captain Christy Wise, just months after she tragically lost one of her legs in a freak boat accident. Christy was determined to return to her job as an Air Force pilot, which she did in 2016, becoming the first woman who had lost a leg above the knee to return to active duty as a pilot.
Christy credits the multiple prosthetic legs she uses in everyday life and while flying with helping her return to her active life after her accident. But through her twin sister Jessica, a surgical resident in training who had traveled to Haiti as part of medical missions, Christy knew that many people in the world who have lost limbs have no access to prostheses, or the ability to have them regularly maintained and re-fit, as is necessary to keep a prosthetic limb working well. That’s why Christy and Jessica started the One Leg Up on Life Foundation, to help bring prosthetic clinics to Haiti.
Starting this spring, OLUOL will be partnering with HEI/SBH to run twice-yearly prosthetic clinics at St. Boniface Hospital. OLUOL provides all of the equipment and prostheses. They create and fit new prosthetic legs and arms for people who have lost limbs either through accidents or through necessary medical amputations, as well as adjusting and maintaining existing prostheses for people in the local community.
The surgical center at SBH performs amputation surgeries regularly for patients with illnesses or injuries that necessitate removing part or all of a limb. But prosthetic services are rare and hard to access in Haiti, so many patients have to travel long distances or wait many months, even years, before getting a prosthesis. The partnership with OLUOL gives these patients the opportunity to get a prosthesis for free, and have it regularly maintained by the team of highly qualified prosthetic technicians, doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who volunteer with OLUOL. SBH’s own physical therapy team also works with OLUOL to help provide ongoing care to people in the Fond des Blancs area who use prosthetics.