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Union Leader News - August 5, 2005

Nashua man makes call for prosthetic limbs
By DAN McLEAN - Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - Tomorrow, the owner of a local prosthetics firm is hoping to collect artificial limbs gathering dust in the bottom of closets throughout the state.

Paul Harney, 44, has been in the prosthetics field for 20 years and started F.D.R. Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics in the spring of 2003. He named his business after former President Franklin D. Roosevelt to inspire patients who have lost the use of their legs.

Over the years, Harney has packed up extra limbs brought to him by clients and sent them to Limbs for Life, based in Oklahoma City.

"It's something that we run into in our field - where you often have a deceased spouse and the husband or wife calls and says, 'I got three legs here and I don't know what to do with them.'"

After learning more about the need for prosthetic limbs throughout the world - particularly to help those wounded by land mines - Harney decided to reach out to the community and ask for any extra prosthetic limbs the public may have.

Three weeks ago at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Lowell, Mass, Harney collected 25 prosthetic limbs in two hours.

"It was amazing. You wouldn't think that there would be that many legs of deceased folks being stored up in closets and garages. People were showing up with two or three legs," he said in a phone interview yesterday.

Since the Lowell event, he has collected another eight legs and one arm.

Tomorrow, Harney plans to open his office doors from 9 to 11 a.m. at 39 Simon St. for more donations.

New, a foot costs about $4,000 and a leg $12,000, he said.

About 30 percent of the limbs he receives as donations are "in class A shape," he said, noting that he receives no payment in handling the donated limbs.

The primary parts needed, he said, are the knee, shin, and foot.

Harney would like to go to Cambodia and nations in Africa to fit people for limbs "instead of having people walking on broom sticks."

If he can't organize his own distribution, Limbs for Life will distribute the limbs for him.

Reached by phone, Craig Gavras, executive director of Limbs for Life, estimated his group receives 1,100 limbs and 6,000 components a year in donations. For large donations, he said, his group can arrange free shipping.

The group, which was established 10 years ago, sends prosthetic limbs to Turkey, Peru, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in a partnership with Physicians for Peace based in Norfolk, Va.

Turkey is one where people have lost limbs due to land mines, he said.

The limbs cannot be used domestically because of product liability laws, Gavras said.

Gavras, who knows Harney, said he would be delighted to him have join Limbs for Life when it heads overseas to fit people for prosthetic limbs.

"Once you go on one mission trip, it changes your life. I'd love to have him join us and go on a trip," Gavras said.


FDR Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics Toll Free Number:
Nashua, NH (603) 595-9255
Burlington, MA (781) 273-5462
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