NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Men's shed volunteers send used prosthetic limbs to Africa

Wudeh with new limb Image copyright Legs4Africa
Image caption Children such as amputee Wudeh benefit from the donated prosthetics

Amputees in Africa are receiving hundreds of new prosthetic limbs thanks to a group of retirees in Aberdeenshire.

Volunteers at Stonehaven Men's Shed have been collecting the used legs so they can then be given a new lease of life in places such as The Gambia.

The prosthetics are stripped down to their components before being sent to Africa to be rebuilt for new owners.

The group works in partnership with the charity Legs4Africa.

One of the reasons the project is possible is that most parts used in the legs are standardised around the world, so they can be taken elsewhere and used again.

Image caption The prosthetics are stripped down to their component parts
Image caption Men in Stonehaven are using their skills to help

For the grateful recipients - often from deprived communities - this can mean a chance of a more active and independent life.

Stonehaven Men's Shed allows members to share tools and resources to work on projects of their own choosing.

John Robson, from Stonehaven Rotary Club, collects prosthetics discarded by hospitals from all over the country.

He then brings them to the small Stonehaven team consisting of retired engineers and former tradesmen.

Image caption John Robson said it is a "win-win situation"

Mr Robson said he began by contacting hospitals across Scotland - in Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness, Aberdeen and Glasgow - and has been collecting legs from them ever since.

'Wonderful feeling'

He said: "These legs were getting dumped basically for ethical reasons nobody wanted to use somebody else's old leg.

"They come from the hospitals from the deceased, or were badly-fitted, or people grow out of them or whatever reason they're no longer required and they lie on shelves in the limb-fitting centre until eventually they are thrown out.

"They don't want to throw them out, they are valuable pieces of equipment, but that's what happens, until this project came along.

"Now they are glad to give us the legs, because they know they're being re-used. They go to Africa and the parts are made into new legs."

He added: "It's a wonderful feeling, it's a win-win situation, everybody wins."

Image copyright Legs4Africa
Image caption Young girl Wudeh has been offered a new lease of life

Fellow helper Willie Shepherd said: "This in fact is the only Men's Shed doing this prosthetic dismantling in the whole of Scotland.

"So for us it's a pleasure, it's also a privilege to be involved in something as important as this. I think it is very important work."

'Help someone in need'

And Bill Emslie said of his retirement pastime: "Your time is your own now, I retired five years ago, I just said to myself I cannot sit on my backside and do nothing.

"The camaraderie here is fantastic. We are all after the same aim - to help someone in need."

Legs4Africa has collected about 1,500 legs from hospitals and individuals this year, all of which have been dismantled by Men's Sheds across the UK including Stonehaven.

Since the charity began five years ago it has shipped enough parts to build 5,700 legs to centres in 10 countries across Africa.

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