News / Americas

Haitian Orphan Gets Nation's First 3-D Printer Prosthesis

Stevenson Joseph, 12, learns to use a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 28, 2014.
Stevenson Joseph, 12, learns to use a 3-D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 28, 2014.
Reuters
A 12-year-old orphan boy handicapped from birth became the first recipient of a 3-D printer prosthesis in Haiti last month, thanks to a British-born software engineer in California.
 
Born without fingers on either hand, Stevenson Joseph had little hope of treatment in a country where programs for the disabled are rare apart from a handful of charities.
 
Now the 3-D prosthesis fitted to his left hand has given him a whole new range of dexterity, including being able to play catch with his friends for the first time and maybe even enabling him to write one day, according to staff at the home for disabled orphans where he lives.
 
In 2010, Stevenson was brought to Bernard Mevs hospital in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where an orthopedic team was working to fit prosthetic limbs after a devastating earthquake caused injuries that required amputations.
 
“We couldn't do anything for him here,” recalled Thomas Iwalla, a Kenyan orthopedic technician at hospital.
 
“Some congenital conditions, like Stevenson's, are pretty hard to tackle. Not even surgery could repair his missing fingers,” he said.
 
On a mission trip to Haiti for Florida-based Food for the Poor last year, John Marshall and his wife Lisa, met Stevenson at the Little Children of Jesus orphanage where he has lived since he was abandoned when he was three years old.
 
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.
 
“Stevenson is handicapped in a small way, in a way that's not as bad as some of the other children, yet his hands are holding him back. He can do so much more. He has the potential,” said Marshall.
 
After three attempts, the skeleton-looking prosthesis was ready and shipped to Haiti where Bernard Mevs hospital medical team fit Stevenson with it last month.
 
“A printed prosthesis is more anatomical and it allows more motion than the one that is usually custom-made,” said Iwalla, an orthopedic technician at the hospital. Also, once the model is designed, printing the prosthesis cost only around $300.
 
“Some patients care more about cosmetics. But for Stevenson function is the most
Stevenson Joseph (R), practices using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, April 28, 2014.Stevenson Joseph (R), practices using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, April 28, 2014.
x
Stevenson Joseph (R), practices using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, April 28, 2014.
Stevenson Joseph (R), practices using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand at the orphanage where he lives in Santo, near Port-au-Prince, April 28, 2014.
important criteria. That's what is in his mind. His robot-hand makes him happy, makes us happy,” said Iwalla.
 
Instead of shooting ink to print words or images in a page, 3-D printers use plastic or metal to build three-dimensional objects ranging from jewelry to guns.
 
Stevenson now spends his days getting used to his new hand.
 
“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.”
 
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.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Captures Wanted Drug Kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva

Beltran Leyva is one of four brothers who allegedly headed a vicious Mexican drug cartel after it split with the Sinaloa cartel
More

Mother Says Former US Marine Needs Treatment, Not Mexican Prison

Jill Tahmooressi said son Andrew, 26, has been threatened by prison guards with rape, torture and execution since his arrest in March
More

Rio 2016 Olympics Progress Impressive, Says IOC in Change of Tone

Assessment, in stark contrast to ‘worst’ ever remark made by one committee member, comes after latest site inspection
More

Mexican Soldiers Face Murder Charges in 22 Deaths

Three soldiers charged with homicide in death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed
More

Poll: Record Number of Mexicans Crime Victims in 2013

While government data shows murder rate has fallen in past 2 years, crimes such as kidnapping and extortion, which affect wider swath of the population, rise
More

OAS Asks Members to Take In Guantanamo Detainees

Organization of American States issues appeal for member countries to take in detainees from US military prison
More