While the need for prostheses is expected to increase in Haiti as more amputations occur, parts for the devices are expensive, said Doty, whose organization specializes in prosthetics and orthotics.
Many used components from discarded prostheses in the United States could play an important role in the life of a Haitian amputee, he said.
“We just thought, rather than having these things sitting in a closet, let’s try to do whatever we can to put them to use,” Doty said.
The earthquake, which according to the American Red Cross left an estimated 200,000 people dead and another 1.2 million homeless, also sent a surge of wounded Haitians to hospitals in need of amputations.
About 80% of all hospital patients in Haiti following the earthquake have had orthopedic injuries, most of which are leg-related fractures, according to Handicap International, an organization providing relief work in the recovering nation.
And up to 4,000 Haitians are expected to receive amputations and be in need of prostheses as a result of earthquake-related injuries and infections, according to Handicap International.
“The need is huge,” said Lea Radick, a spokeswoman for the organization.
Handicap International has resorted to assembling prostheses within Haiti because of the high prices of the U.S.-made devices, coupled with the cost of shipping them, Radick said.
Doty hoped the local collection effort would bring together valuable and advanced equipment unavailable in Haiti, he said.
A room in his Glendale office, in a building at Verdugo Hills Hospital, had enough used components to assemble about 25 prostheses, but he has not received as many donations as he had hoped from the region.
A company office in Albuquerque, by comparison, collected enough parts for about 50 prostheses, he said.
While the need for prostheses is large, the need to send the artificial limbs to Haiti as quickly as possible is also pressing because many recent amputees could be discouraged or ostracized because of their injuries, Doty said.
“There’s something to be said psychologically to have a limb available to use immediately,” he said, adding that without limbs “they may think, ‘I’m never going to work again.’ The quality of life is so much worse.”
Active Life has not determined exactly how the materials will be distributed and fitted for use once they arrive in Haiti, but is planning to end its collections Friday. The material from collections in Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Glendale will ship soon after, Doty said.
For more information, visit www.4activelife.com.