2013 HEALTH AWARD
A Leg to Stand On
Africa, Asia and Latin America
In the late 1990s, C. Mead Welles was sitting outside at a restaurant in Indonesia when three underfed and exhausted boys passed by. Two pulled a rope tied to a garbage can lid and a third boy sat on the lid. His leg was deformed, raw and bleeding; he could not stand on it any longer. His knuckles were in the same condition, indicating that he had been pulling himself around on the lid. Paralyzed with sadness for the boy, Mead vowed to dedicate his life to helping children without limbs.
He flew home and started A Leg To Stand On (ALTSO), an organization that provides free prosthetic limbs, orthopedic devices, mobility aids, corrective surgery and rehabilitative care to children in the developing world who have lost their limbs in traumatic accidents or suffer from congenital disabilities. The organization also provides free orthopedic that is carefully planned for each child in need. Follow-up appointments are critical to ensure the child is receiving the lasting change they need to live a self-sufficient life. When children are given prosthetic limbs, ALTSO continues to work with the child until they are 18, ensuring that their treatment is not a one-time “fix” but a permanent solution that adapts as the child grows.
ALTSO gives children with limb disabilities the opportunity to lead independent lives. Children are referred to ALTSO by local doctors, educators, community leaders, family members or friends. Each patient receives an evaluation and free treatment for their condition. After treatment, children begin post-operative physical therapy and rehabilitation to ensure their long-term recovery. ALTSO’s goal is to provide every patient with high-quality continuous care until they turn 18. ALTSO trains local medical professionals orthopedic surgical techniques, prosthetic design and rehabilitation practices to help bridge the gap in medical care between the developed and developing worlds.
Since 2002, ALTSO has transformed the lives of over 14,000 children in 10 developing countries.