Refurbishment and Redistribution of Used Prosthetic Limbs
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My name is Shaun Stocker and I was injured in service with the British Army in 2010 in Afghanistan losing both my legs above the knee. After years of rehabilitation I was determined to walk again and nothing was going to stop me.
After meeting an elderly veteran in my local park a few months ago who described his prosthetic limb as ‘prehistoric,’ he explained to me how desperately he wanted and needed a more advanced limb for a better quality of life.
As a double above knee amputee who has ownership of both current and also technologically outdated limbs, I wanted to donate to him as this is possible due to my ownership of the limbs. If these were NHS property, I would not be able to do this.
I offered to donate one of my C legs to him for fitting by our local prosthetist. Although the C legs are outdated in comparison to my current pair of Geniums, they are still highly functional prosthetics and are deemed very valuable by NHS patients.
However, the law states that this is not possible as they are classed as ‘used medical equipment.’ I am petitioning to change this law and create a way for these limbs to refurbished and reused for those who so desperately need a better quality of life but cannot necessary get these on the NHS or afford private health care.
From the community I am surrounded by, I know there are many injured servicemen who are in my situation and in possession of these limbs that are essentially deemed useless. My prosthetist team confirm that this is a common issue and feel my frustration.
Once a limb, privately owned or NHS property has been used even once, they cannot be reissued to anybody else. How many limbs are sitting in attics, basements, backs of wardrobes when they could be helping people who desperately need it and how many thousands or millions of pounds could this save the NHS?
I understand that from a health and safety point of view, the law on ‘used medical equipment’ is there to protect the public, however no part of these limbs touch the body and are therefore uncontaminated. As long as they are deemed in good working order they should be refurbished and redistributed. This law works for dirty needles but these limbs are accessibility aids only.
The only party who benefit from this law is the prosthetic manufacturers and who charge thousands for a new limb for patients. Should the NHS and individuals fit this unnecessary bill?
The only solution I could find to this problem was donating my limbs worth over £50,000 to amputees in South Africa as their laws allow this and does not class these valuable limbs as ‘used medical equipment.’ The downside to this is that sadly countries such as South Africa don’t necessarily have the means or expertise to utilise this technology to its full capability.
The principal of not using a piece of medical equipment as it is ‘used’ is costing the NHS and tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds each year and it needs to stop across the board. I heard a similar situation from a military friend of mine trying to donate a defibrillator to his local village, but it had been used. Could it have saved lives? Unfortunately it was deemed useless.
I am asking for your help by signing my petition to make a change to help amputees, the NHS and the environment. I need 10,000 signatures for this to be considered by government. Help me make a change.
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