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January 3, 2011 - B.A.S.R.A. Prosthetics for Life, Inc.

This Tuesday, Linda Smythe, Chairperson/Founder and member of Montgomery Village Rotary Club, will present on the exciting work of the B.A.S.R.A. Project during RCDC's regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting. All are invitied and we look forward to seeing you for our first meeting of 2012!

Time: 6:30 - 8:00

Date: January 3, 2011

Place: Mad Hatter DC, 1319 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington, DC

Montgomery Village Rotary aids Iraqi Amputees -

In Iraq, amputees are fitted for prosthetic limbs as though they were being fitted for a new pair of shoes — with a tape measure. But walking with an ill-fitting limb is much more painful than a tight pair of shoes. Members of the Montgomery Village Rotary Club want to see that doctors in Iraq have access to the same advanced technology used to create and fit prosthetics in the U.S., said Linda Smythe, a member of the Montgomery Village Rotary Club. These Iraqi doctors are trying to serve an amputee population estimated to be between 50,000 and 80,000 civilians.

Smythe helped the club create BASRA Prosthetics for Life Inc. in 2005. The program helps recovering amputees by organizing medical training and donating supplies. The Rotarians want to send the kind of scanners used to fit prosthetic limbs in the U.S. to the Basra Prosthetic and Rehabilitation Center in Basra, a town in southern Iraq. The center serves patients who suffer from mine injuries, amputations and other traumatic wounds. The scanners take readings of an amputee's stump in order to create a socket that fits precisely.

The BASRA project is run by the Montgomery Village Rotary Club, along with Rotarian volunteers from other Clubs. It partners with organizations such as Hanger Orthopedic Group Inc., a prosthetics provider, and the Ministry of Health in Iraq.

The club initially raised about $20,000 for the BASRA project; then received a $50,000 Rotary District grant, $8,000 from other Rotary clubs nationwide and $40,000 from other organizations. After sponsoring a successful medical and training mission in 2006 in Amman, Jordan, the U.S. Dept. of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement awarded the Montgomery Village Rotary Club Foundation a $1.7 million grant in 2008 to expand and continue its work with amputees in Iraq.

In addition to raising funds, the BASRA project coordinated used prosthetic limb drives through multiple Rotary clubs and collected donated prosthetics valued at $180,000, which were sent to the BASRA clinic. Prosthetics are not allowed to be reused in the U.S., but are very useful in Iraq. The club also sent approximately $300,000 worth of medical supplies to the Basra clinic over the past three years.

In November 2010, the BASRA Project organized a three-week training session for two doctors and two prosthetic technicians from the Basra clinic staff with instructors from St. Petersburg College in Florida. Project volunteers arranged travel to the U.S., worked with St. Petersburg staff to develop a customized training curriculum, and had all the training materials translated into Arabic so the material could be used to train other medical staff back in Iraq.

The Basra clinic, in coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, is building a training facility and the BASRA project anticipates funding the purchase of equipment for the new facility. With the development of a regional training center, the clinic will be able to expand the prosthetics it currently produces for 45 to 50 patients every month. They want to make a significant reduction in the wait times, which can be up to six months, for an amputee’s first appointment. While there is still much to do, the BASRA project staff is enthusiastic about what has been accomplished thus far and the prospect of helping to complete the training center.

Follow this link to find out more about the project: B.A.S.R.A. Project - Prosthetics for Life

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