A British-born software engineer in California helped a handicapped 12 year-old Haitian orphan boy with 3-D print a plastic prosthetic “Robohand”. The boy was born without fingers on both hands. The name of the boy is Stevenson Joseph.
Stevenson was abandoned at the age of three and started living at the Little Children of Jesus orphanage. In 2010, he was brought to Bernard Mevs Hospital in the capital of Port-au-Prince, where an orthopedic team was working to fit prosthetic limbs after a devastating earthquake caused injuries that required amputations. But they could not repair his missing fingers. So, Stevenson Joseph had little hope of treatment in a country where programs for the disabled are rare apart from a handful of charities.
Last year software engineer John Marshall and his wife Lisa, came to Haiti on a mission for Florida-based Food for the Poor Then they met with Stevenson and decided to help him.
Back in California, Marshall read an article about Richard van As, a South African man who developed a plastic prosthetic “Robohand” using a 3-D printer after losing his fingers in an woodwork accident in 2011.
Marshall and van As worked for months to design a 3-D print prosthesis for the Haitian boy. After three attempts, the skeleton-looking prosthesis was ready and then sent to Haiti where Bernard Mevs hospital medical team fit Stevenson with it last month.
“Some patients care more about cosmetics. But for Stevenson function is the most important criteria. That’s what is in his mind. His robot-hand makes him happy, makes us happy,” said Iwalla, an orthopedic technician at the hospital.
The 3-D device, articulated by Stevenson’s wrist, makes a slight creaking plastic sound when moving. “Some say that now he looks like a robot, but Stevenson doesn’t care,” said Edouard Williamson, one of the staff at the orphanage.
“It is a great hand,” he smiled, ticking off his list of accomplishments. “Now I can take a balloon with it. I can score at basketball. I can hold a TV remote and push my friends on their wheelchairs. I can hold a water bottle, a bag. I like it a lot.”
Stevenson now spends his days getting used to his new hand.