San Myo from Myanmar is a bright and happy boy. Though the twelve year-old was born without the lower half of his left leg, the handicap doesn't keep him from playing football with friends. In order to help him walk, his father cobbled together a prosthesis using an old drain pipe. At the Ottobock facilities in Duderstadt, San Myo has now received a leg prosthesis that has been optimally tailored to his personal needs and living conditions. The costs for the fitting are covered by the Otto Bock Foundation (see background information).
San Myo's home is located in a village on the banks of the Irrawaddy river. The region in the former Burma was devastated by a cyclone in 2008, killing more than 100,000 people. San Myo's family lost all their earthly possessions to the natural disaster, and still lives in extreme poverty today. Frank Franke, President of the "Wings of Help" organisation, met San Myo in 2011 during an aid shipment. Hartwig Fischer, a member of the German Bundestag from Göttingen and also a member of "Wings of Help", put Franke in contact with the Otto Bock Foundation, and Franke organised the boy's trip to Germany. At the Ottobock Competence Centre in Duderstadt, a team of technicians led by Norbert Jakobi and Marlen Sippel took care of San Myo's fitting. The boy received his definitive prosthesis after only a few days, and can now walk on it without problems, after an intensive gait training course. The drain pipe was thrown into the trash, and San Myo now wears a new pair of sandals instead.
During the fitting, which lasted around three weeks, the boy stayed without charge with the Diedrich family in Westerode, which has four children itself and a gardening and vegetable farm business. The family's two daughters moved into a single room together so that the boy could have his own private space during his stay. Even though much about daily life there was foreign to him at first, he adapted quickly and integrated into the family very well.
"Our engagement is designed for sustainability", says Karl Heinz Burghardt, Director of the Otto Bock Foundation. Because of a child's growth, prosthetic fitting components for children must often be renewed, for example the socket, that is, the connection between the residual limb and the prosthesis. In the future, San Myo will receive support from Ottobock colleagues from Thailand, in order to keep his prosthesis in good working condition and to adapt it to the changing circumstances. "For the growth development of a twelve year-old, it is extremely important to avoid malpositions of the body. For this reason, the prosthetic fitting from Ottobock will not only contribute to a considerable improvement in mobility and quality of life, but will also counteract malformations in skeletal and muscular structures", explains Karl Heinz Burghardt.
Wings of Help
"Wings of Help" (WOH) is the German association of a Europe-wide network of aviation organisations, headed by the physicist and former astronaut Dr. Ulf Dietrich Merbold. In addition to employees from different airline companies, the association also includes entrepreneurs, journalists, farmers, restaurateurs, and craftsmen. The goal of "Wings of Help" is to support relief organisations from all over the world – not only through material donations, but also through the organisation and coordination of air transport for people and relief aid.
For more information, please visit www.luftfahrtohnegrenzen.de/en.html
Otto Bock Foundation
Dr.-Ing. E.h. Max Näder founded the independent Otto Bock Foundation in 1987 to further orthopaedic technology and promote interdisciplinary cooperation through continuing education events for doctors, engineers, prosthetists and orthotists. Today his son, Professor Hans Georg Näder, President and CEO of Otto Bock HealthCare, holds the title of Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2002, the mandate for the Otto Bock Foundation was expanded to initiate a relief operation following catastrophic floods in eastern Germany. Since social responsibility extends beyond national borders, the Otto Bock Foundation also contributes to international aid projects, including help following the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the earthquakes in China and Haiti. These efforts focus on providing fittings for children. Devices from Ottobock can help them recover a measure of normality and quality of life. The aid comes directly from donations or through donations to non-profit relief organisations whose sole or main purpose is to support and aid children in need. The Otto Bock Foundation has no budget and finances its projects using only private donations or donations from Otto Bock HealthCare.
Otto Bock Foundation,
Tel.: +49 (0) 5527 848 1424
Fax: +49 (0) 5527 72 330
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