Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Innovación Orthopédica: Truly Angels"

I posted this on our www.hammonDRmission.blogspot; but we enjoyed our experience so much, I am posting it here, too.

"Innovación Orthopédica: Truly Angels"
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Monday morning was incredible! We went to Innovación Orthopédica, a company that helps people who need prosthetics. The Church is currently working with them on a humanitarian project. The project has to do with prosthetics. Once they receive a referral from a hospital or a priesthood leader, they then work with that client to help them create and develop the right prosthesis for that person.

Jose, Samuelito, Previ, Heidi, y Carlos ("Freddy")
Cristina, one of three leaders at Innovación Orthopédica, met us at the door. She introduced us to Carlos (Freddy) and José. They are wonderful men with a vision of what needs to be done and a passion for doing it. They have been around for a long time. Both Carlos and José have been to the U.S. to be trained. Plus, they have worked with some of our people from Salt Lake.

The way they became involved with the Church is quite serendipitous. One day they received a call from James from Salt Lake City. He had been a missionary in the DR, went home, was in an accident, and lost his leg, thus necessitating prosthesis. When he was in the DR. he couldn’t believe the number of amputees. Once he was home, he decided to help the DR. So, he looked through the directory and found Innovación Orthopédica. He called them up, explained what he wanted to do, and asked if they would be interested. Of course, they were a bit skittish about this. Why would anyone call them out of the blue and say he would help them for free? That just doesn’t happen. They took the chance, however, and the rest is history. They are now a wonderful partner for the Church.

Today, there were three young people there who wanted to tell us their stories—Samuelito (11), Previs (11), and Heidi (16). Previs was with a group of eight of his friends at a carnival when a drunk driver, a woman, smashed into them. One of the eight was killed, others weren’t seriously injured, and Previs was seriously injured. Several bones were broken, and his right leg was in such a mess they had to amputate about thigh high. So the Innovación Orthopédica worked with the Church to create a unique prosthesis for Previs. He showed it to us and was very proud that he could walk like a normal young man. His life changed because of Innovación Orthopédica and their work.
Heidi is a different story but one filled with hope. She was born with no legs below the knee. Plus, her hands are somewhat deformed as well. For the first several years of her life, she walked on her knees. Since she was already small, the kids at school made fun of her, and she developed a very low self esteem. Finally, she was referred to Innovación Orthopédica, and they began to work with her. Soon, they created two prostheses, one for each leg.  

Samuelito, Previs, los Hammon, y Heidi
Carlos, one of the co-owners of Innovación Orthopédica, asked Heidi to walk down the hall for us and then asked us which leg had the prosthesis. Honestly, Sister Hammon and I had a difficult time deciding which one because she walked so well. We guessed the right leg. Carlos then said, “She has two,” and then Heidi told her sad story but with a happy ending. We told Heidi she was wonderful, and she just beamed. She is now a beautiful young 16-year-old with a hope for the future. When I asked what she was going to do, she said, “I am going to finish high school, and I then I want to become a doctor.” Carlos said that once Heidi graduates from high school, they are going to hire her and help her through college. What a wonderful young woman Heidi is! Her smile is intoxicating, and her view of the future is positive. She knows what she wants to do.

Carlos and José took us on a tour of their facility, truly a facility that utilizes every single space available and then some. They begin by working with the client and measuring the person for prosthesis. Then they go to the shop where a young man begins building the mold. The young who was there had been a delivery boy for a colmado, a local store, near Carlos’ house. Over a few years, Carlos would call the Colmado, and this young man was the one who delivered the goods. They developed a friendly relationship.

One day, Carlos called José and said, “I think this young man could work out, helping us in the shop.” They agreed, and the young man came to clean the building. Because he was naturally curious about what was going on, bit by bit, they showed him how to make the parts. Soon, the person who was doing the job left, and this young man took over and has done an incredible since then.

We also went back to the room where the oven/kiln was where they “bake” the mold. Two young men were there, and they create the molds from scratch. They showed us the final products they make. So, Innovación Orthopédica makes everything from ground zero, create a unique prosthesis for each person. We were impressed with everyone there. They were absolutely incredible.

Samuelito, Previs, Heidy, y Carlos ("Freddy")
We stopped in to visit with Christina, Carlos’ wife. She showed us a variety of videos they had taken of some of their clients—the before and after shots. This is what humanitarian work is all about. Working with groups like Innovación Orthopédica shows me the importance of partnership and the importance of people like Carlos, José, Cristina, Heidi, Samuelito, Previs, and all of the people associated with Innovación Orthopédica. These people do not receive government funding; yet, they are willing to go out of their way to help their clients. There were a couple of times that tears almost came to our eyes when they told us the touching stories of the people they have helped. They even showed a video of Carlos and Cristina’s dog whose back legs became immobile.

They came on a Saturday and built a prosthesis that the dog wears that is hooked to a set of wooden tires that allow this little dog to move about the house and outside. That’s the kind of people at Innovación Orthopédica. They serve others, not matter who or what they are. 

Thank you, Innovación Orthopédica, for brightening our day and renewing our hope for a better future. And thank you Samuelito, Previs, and Heidi. Y gracias a Samuelito, Previs, y Heidi. Ustedes son increíbles y impresionantes. Ustedes son nuestros heroes.

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