Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clips From Guatemala

Each member of ISA was teamed up with an amputee and was able to make the leg and the socket from start to finish in an effort to give more personalized attention. There was a little bit of a language barrier with some but the love and the desire to help was felt by all. This video is of ISA Member Kristy and Jose Luis walking together on his finished leg.

Noel showing us how he can dance on his new leg.

Blanca being helped by Luky (pronounced Lukee), who is training to become a prosthetist in Guatemala. She is the sister to Eddie Fuentes, who is the owner and prosthetist of the Centro Bionico.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Week 4: Tonga

A month in Tonga has flown by, and we have much to show for it. I have included a few of the highlights from the past two weeks, as well as some pictures.

During the two weeks that we didn't have a prosthetist in Tonga, we continued to move forward in working with the many amputees that were coming to the clinic. Over the past month, we have had around 35-40 amputees come in requesting our services. Since many of these people haven't had prosthetic legs before, and because the clinic is still getting started, we have been able to fabricate legs for about 7-10 of these people and plan to fit all of these people over the next month or so.

One amputee that we were very excited to see walk away with a leg last week is Kalesita, the 7-year-old girl who lost her leg in a car accident. Because she has been wearing an old, broken prosthesis that works basically like a peg leg, she had a hard time walking normally when she first put on our leg. She had grown so accustom to walking straight-legged with her old prosthesis, so we had to teach her how to bend her knee again and roll from her heel to her toe. After some practice, she was able to really catch on (see attached pictures). We are so excited for her to be able to run and play like a normal kid again!

Sione, Feinga, Freddie, and Tevita have become proficient and fabricating and fitting below-the-knee prostheses over the past few weeks. With the help of Sean Zeller (CPO of New Jersey) this last week, we were able to show these men how to properly align and fit a leg. Thankfully these men are good at and dedicated to what they do, which is vital to the long-term success of the clinic. In addition to Sean's help this past week, we also received great support from the volunteers that arrived: David and Rachel Chinn, and Devee Churchill.

Last Thursday, thanks to the coordinating efforts of Sita Harris and Sione, Tonga TV visited the clinic. They interview Sione and myself, as well as filmed everyone working in the clinic. Also Doctors Siale and Tuakoi from the Ministry of Health spoke to the news station to express their gratitude for the newly-opened clinic. This news story was seen on Tonga TV that night, as well as broadcast over the radio. Later that day Sione received a phone call from an amputee interested in coming to the clinic because he had heard about it over the radio.
Also thanks to Sita Harris, we were able to meet with Prime Minister of Tonga on Friday. At the meeting we were able to breifly explain what we have done, as well as our future plans for the clinic. He expressed his gratitude to everyone for making prosthetics care avaliable in his country. This was a great way to top off a successful week and month.

As for now, Mary Goodrich and Chris Doxey are in Tonga for one more week. After July 2nd, the Tonga Prosthetics Clinic (TPC) will be running free of volunteers. Of course 2ft Prosthetics, Deseret International, and all volunteers will continue to provide TPC support as needed.

Please forgive the length of this email, but most importantly I want to express my gratitude to everyone for helping make this clinic successful. Thanks to all of you, there is now a functional prosthetics clinic in Tonga that will be able to help many disabled people have more freedom and self-confidence. Four men -- Sione, Feinga, Tevita, and Freddie -- now have a new, valuable technical skill which they can share with the rest of Tonga. This project wouldn't have been possible without all of your efforts and support. Thank you!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guatemala Update

Dear Family and Friends,
Well, our trip Guatemala has come to an end. What an amazing trip and adventure! I can't believe that everything came together so well and that we were able to pull it off. I will try to update you on the rest of the trip and hopefully you can get a feel of how great it was.
In a previous email, I gave a description of the first several days in Guatemala. I am going to pick up where I left off.

Wednesday morning we showed up at the clinic at 7:30 and made final preparations of the legs. Julio the prosthetist, had an appointment at 8:00 and he had to spend a lot of time with him so our patients didn't start showing up until about 10:00. Carlos was the first to arrive, He is only eight years old. His mom mentioned that they didn't have a lot of time because she needed to get home to prepare the house for after Carlos' operation. The bones on his stump have started to grow and it makes it very uncomfortable for him to walk. His current prosthesis is also too short and it is starting to make his knee grow sideways. Julio made Carlos' mom promise her that she would not let the doctor cut off his knee because that would cause so many more problems and more expensive prosthetics. When he put his new foot on, he was able to walk normal and the sharp bones didn't rub on the bottom of the socket, making his walking so much more comfortable. He was a happy little boy!

Eddy was next. Eddy lost his leg trying to come to the States seeking after the "American Dream". On his journey, someone pushed him under a train. He said he remembered counting seven train cars and then he passed out. When he woke up, he was in the hospital and his leg was missing. His was a special case because he was amputated just above the ankle which didn't allow for a lot of room for us to work and create a foot. But because of the dynamics of our product, we were able to adjust and make something work for him. As he put his leg on, he walked for the first time in a year and a half. We had to tell him to slow down and take it easy and he was ready to go and run a marathon! The first question he asked us was if he could ride his motorcycle again! We said yes, but it either had to be an automatic or his gears had to be moved to the left side as his right leg is the one that is missing. He told us that the first thing he did when he got home was switch his gears over, hoping that one day he could ride it again! His dreams came true!!

After those two, things got really crazy around the clinic and I don't remember who was next. I just remember working, working and working some more. Melvin was super happy about his leg. He said that he was going to use it for everything that could, that it felt funny but he was super excited to have a new leg!

Carlos, our double amputee, was so quiet and shy as he walked back to the fitting room. He slowly took of his legs, rolled up his pants, and climbed up on the examination table. He was kind of quiet about the whole process. We fit the sockets on and they were a perfect fit. We held up the feet to show him what they looked like and a smile showed up on his face. He got kind of serious and then he asked us a question, "Can I be a little bit taller?" I had never thought about it before, but his height was limited by the size of his prosthetics. He was so sincere and so humble, and of course we said yes! When we made his legs, we made sure that we added five to six inches. He was super happy that he was as tall as he was, so was his mother. With tears in her eyes, she said thank you! He truly was an amazing story.

On Wednesday, we ended up fitting 10 amputees, giving away 11 legs. Of the 13 people in our group, 9 had to leave about three in the afternoon to go on to the next project. I stayed back with Jon, who is making a documentary of the project, Leoni and his wife Silvia. We finished fitting around 8:30 and I went home and went right to bed.

Thursday morning we woke up and were at the clinic by 7:30 as our patients started showing up then. We thought we only had three more people to fit, but we found an extra mold that hadn't been modified, nor had the foot been made. We had a lot of work to do and there was no one there to do it as Leoni, Jon and Silvia went to the house of Blanca to film her in her element. I stayed at the clinic with Julio and his sister Luky to meet with the four patients. They all had to travel about 4-6 hours to get there and they were super tired.
Maria lives up in the mountains and has to cross a river daily to complete her chores. She brought us pictures of her in the river with her crutches as she has to remove her current prosthetic so it doesn't get ruined by the water. She is one of Julio's favorite patients and so when we were making the socket, he put a transtherm leopard print on the plastic! It was pretty cool. When she saw the leg, she was a little shocked because it didn't look anything like she had expected. She was so grateful that she would now be able to walk without her crutches and be able to use both her hands while walking. She couldn't believe that she would be able to walk through the river with her current leg.
All in all, it was an amazing project. We had dinner at Julio's house on Thursday night. He thanked us for coming down and said that he would love to have us back again. He has over 350 people on a waiting list who are financially in need. When I ask him if he was going to use our product, he said that he would, but that it was going to have to be an a limited basis because they still needed to make the money that they did to provide for their families.

I hope that we will be able to go again next year and follow up with those that received legs. There is such a big need for prosthetics, not only in Guatemala, but throughout the world. When we drove down town, there were many people who were sitting on the sidewalk or in wheelchairs who were amputees that were forced to beg because they couldn't do anything else. I hope that this project will continue on and that we will be able to help more people realize their dream. Thank you all for your prayers and support in my behalf and on behalf of 2ft.

Best of luck to all on their future endeavors,
Doug Wright

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Week 2: Tonga

Since last Sunday, we have experienced many successes and have also been faced with some problems, but thankfully they all seem to be working out well.

In the two weeks that we've been here, we've been able to start working with over 15 amputees. And there are plenty more to work with. One of the more tender moments occurred when Kalisita, a 7-year old girl, showed up to the clinic with her dad. She lost her leg in a car accident a few years ago, and was given a prosthetic leg in New Zealand after the accident. As you can imagine, she continued to grow while her leg didn't. I have attached a couple pics of her and her old prosthetic leg. The leg used to have a foot on it, but it broke and now she walks on this shortened prosthesis like a peg-leg. We are very excited to make a leg for her so she can start running around again with her friends!

The men we are working with, Sione / John (the physical therapist), Feinga (the wood carver), Freddie and Davida (two younger RMs) are quick learners. This is especially fortunate, considering the lack of a prosthetist at the clinic right now (more on this later). These men understand the importance of the "Tonga Prosthetics Clinic", and seem to be dedicated to making it successful.

As for the issues this week, some of you may have seen Peter's email about the problems with the plaster, fiberglass, and Garth the prosthetist. We were having issues finding plaster, but were able to find some joint compound at a newly-opened hardware store. As we have used it this week to make 5 molds (and have 4 casts waited to be poured), we have found that it will work adequately well for now. We found out from Sam, the supplier of fiberglass, that we were mixing the resin incorrectly, and so have fixed this problem too. As for Garth, the US wouldn't let him leave the country because his passport expires in less than 6 months. Come to find out there is some rarely-known rule that a person cannot travel abroad if their passport is going to expire that soon. So Garth's dad was able to make it to Tonga with supplies, but then headed back to the U.S. early because his son couldn't come down too. Fortunately Sione is skilled and capable. So we've continued to move forward with meeting with amputees. So these problems that seems insurmountable at the beginning of the week have all been overcome.

This project is truly an amazing experience, and we hope to be able to describe it to you all when we get back. As for now, please continue to pray for the success of our project here.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deseret News Coverage

BYU students making prostheses out of PVC pipes
Published: Monday, June 13, 2011 1:47 p.m. MDT
By Randall Jeppesen, Deseret News

PROVO — A group of BYU students who decided to spend part of their free time in college finding an inexpensive way to build prosthetic limbs are now traveling to developing countries helping people walk again.

The idea started about three years ago when some students started meeting in the wind tunnel lab behind the Clyde building to talk about plastics and prostheses, said Douglas Wright.

Their goal was to help amputees in developing countries walk again, since many can't afford the thousands of dollars it takes to buy a carbon-fiber prosthetic limb.

Wright said you can walk on anything from a pirate stump to a crutch, but it's not comfortable. So after months of testing they decided their material of choice was PVC pipe. It can be melted and molded, plus it's firm but flexible.

"PVC gives you a little spring in the heel when you first step, but it gives you a lot of spring in the foot as you go to propel yourself," said Wright.

The group of students started calling themselves 2FT Prosthetics. They entered and won several contests that helped provide the money to move forward with their project.

Last summer they went to El Salvador, where they visited a prostheses clinic and learned a lot about fitting the legs and built a few for people there.

This year they're taking the project even further. The students have teamed up with the International Service Abroad Club at UVU and are right now in Guatemala building and fitting amputees with limbs.

Wright said they built legs for an 11-year-old named Carlos who lost both legs.

"He asked us when we were making his legs, he said ‘Can I be a little bit taller?' We said, ‘We will see what we can do,'" said Wright.

They ended up making the boy 5 inches taller than he ever was before, and Wright said the smile on the boy's face was priceless.

Other members of the group are in Tonga where there is no prosthetic clinic in the entire country.

The prostheses the students make cost around $25 to put together compared to the fiber-carbon limbs that cost thousands of dollars and are often inaccessible to people who only make several hundred dollars a year in developing countries.

Wright said their prostheses won't last nearly as long as the more expensive kinds, but it gives people a chance to get back to work and to normal life where they can possibly save money and be in a position to buy a better prosthetic later.

The students, some of whom have now graduated, are not making any money off the project. Some are even paying their own way to fly to other countries. They said helping others is just something they love doing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Partnership With ISA/UVU

2ft Prosthetics recently partnered with ISA, an International Service Abroad Club at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah in an effort to help more amputees. They recently returned from a trip to Guatemala where this particular group (13 to be exact), along with Doug Wright, a member of 2ft Prosthetics were able to fit 14 amputees and build 15 prosthetic legs all within less than a week's time (more stories to come on that later).

"The (ISA) International Service Abroad Club was founded in 2007. They understand that the need for service is worldwide so the ISA Club was created to help fill that need. Julie Baker Bagley, Director of the National Student Exchange program at Utah Valley University, has served as the sole advisor for the club since it's inception. But because this is a student focused club, students from all disciples across the University have had the opportunity to be a part of service missions to Thailand, Guatemala, and Tonga thus far.

As a club, they hope to be able to touch the lives of others through service while attending UVU. The ISA Club opens it's doors to the student who is willing to learn from others, and also who makes service a part of their daily lives. We want to engage with our community and beyond, we seriously believe that our project changes lives, and we want to be inclusive of everyone within UVU, our community, and worldwide." (taken from the ISA website:

We are pleased with the outcome of this partnership and recognize the power that comes from uniting and partnering with organizations such as these. If you or another organization would like to partner with 2ft Prosthetics, please contact:

Dave Williams:
Doug Wright:

Thank you members of ISA! Your hard work and unique personalized dedication has proved to truly "bring hope to amputees one leg at a time!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

KSL News Release Write Up

UVU International Service Club gives Guatemalan’s a leg up

June 9, 2011
For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert
Written by: Silvia Lobendahn

Eleven Utah Valley University students, two University advisers, and one recent BYU
graduate have been in Guatemala for nearly a week and a half this June to support a
humanitarian project that will provide low-cost prosthetics to 13 amputees.

The members of UVU’s International Service Abroad Club, Julie Bagley, program director
of UVU’s National Student Exchange, Silvia Lobendahn, an adviser to the ISA Club, and
Doug Wright from 2Ft. Prosthetics a not for profit organization have measured, built, and
fit 13 amputees with brand new prosthetics made from pvc within a week’s time. One of
the fortunate amputees named Carlos, an eleven year old boy, was the recipient of two legs
yesterday to help accommodate his growing frame. His mother, a single parent, was so
grateful to receive this help since her job at WalMart only brings in an estimated amount of
$160 US a month to care for both Carlos and his younger brother who is only 7 years old.
The prosthetics can be attached for around 15 percent of the cost of an average prosthetic,
but all 13 prosthetics were donated with money that was raised from 2Ft Prosthetics and the
ISA club.

“The goal is to start self-sustaining clinics that can provide prosthetics for those who are
not able to afford them,” Bagley said. “This humanitarian project is changing the lives of
both the volunteers and the recipients.”

The focus of 2Ft Prosthetics is to establish, step by step, similar clinics worldwide in
underdeveloped countries. The UVU club plans to participate in another 2Ft Prosthetics
project in the future. John Calveri, a UVU student has filmed and will produce a
documentary of the trip for his senior project.

“These students plan and organize humanitarian projects worldwide,” Lobendahn
said. “They have visited other countries where they have left a lasting impact. The aim is to
restore hope and much needed relief.”

For more information contact Mike Rigert, UVU communications manager, at 801-863-
6807. To donate to the humanitarian project contact Silvia Lobendahn at 801-863-7296 or
Julie Bagley at 801-863-6750.


About UVU

Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to nearly 33,000 students.
UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since
has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a
comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of
higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master
degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.

Coverage From The Daily Universe

Coverage From KSL.COM

Doug Wright's Phone Interview with Randall Jeppesen while in Guatemala: