Providing Alternatives to Amputation

LDS Charities partners with Dario Contreras to provide much-needed surgical equipment.

Photographed by: Howard Collett, LDS Philanthropies

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Motorcycles are the main mode of transportation in the Dominican Republic—especially in the crowded cities. They compete with buses, trucks, cars, and even pedestrians on overloaded roadways. When there is an accident, it’s the cyclist or pedestrian who suffers the greatest consequences.

Since amputation is free, it’s a frequently used treatment method for critical leg injuries. Although some legs can be saved, most people cannot afford the cost of surgically repairing a traumatic leg injury. In some cases, proper surgical equipment is not even available. To address this need, Humanitarian Services formed a partnership with Dario Contreras, a Santo Domingo trauma hospital, to provide urgently needed surgical equipment.

“We were very limited in the instruments we had,” said Dr. Elizabeth Vidal, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for the hospital. “We couldn’t do things we needed to because the equipment was very expensive.”

Dr. Vidal needed a specialized electric drill to prepare the bone for steel pins to stabilize complex fractures. They had been using a hand auger from a hardware store to perform these delicate surgeries. Elder and Sister Hansen, humanitarian missionaries, were able to acquire an orthopedic drill along with other needed surgical equipment for the hospital. Dr. Vidal was ecstatic.

“The government helped us get a new pediatric surgical facility,” she said, “but getting new equipment was almost impossible. With the help of [LDS Charities], we were able to get the resources we needed. Now, we can save limbs and provide people with the right treatment.”

Five-year-old Ana Raquel Agramonte was one of those accident victims whose leg was saved by doctors using the donated equipment. She now sits grinning in her father’s lap with her fractured but stabilized leg bound in a bright yellow cast. Without the equipment provided to Dr. Vidal, she likely would be just another amputee statistic. But because the doctor had the necessary equipment, the leg will heal and Ana will have the opportunity to continue with a normal childhood and complete the education that will allow her to succeed in life.

Ana is not the only one whose limb will be saved as a result of the hospital having the proper equipment. This very simple solution ensures the possibility and hope of full recovery for many Dominicans.