July 1, 2022
Tzu Chi and Rotary International launch Prosthesis Center in BTCC
By Joy Rojas
On June 28, Tzu Chi volunteers welcomed key leaders from the Rotary International Districts of India and the Philippines for a milestone event: the inauguration of a Rotary-Tzu Chi Prosthesis Center. The event included a memorandum-signing among members of Tzu Chi Foundation and Rotary International, followed by an unveiling of the Center’s marker and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Located at Synergy Hall of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila, the Rotary-Tzu Chi Prosthesis Center is a district-sponsored global grant and a joint project between Rotary International District 3800 (Philippines), District 3201 (India), District 3670 (Korea), District 3780 (North Balintawak), District 3820 (Lipa West), and District 3810 (Manila Pugad Lawin) and the Tzu Chi Foundation.
“Thank you for giving Tzu Chi Foundation the honor of being your partner organization for the prestigious Rotary grant,” said Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuňez. “It is truly a blessing to be part of this pivotal project.” Yuňez had just flown in from Zamboanga, where he received a van donated by Rotary International to Tzu Chi Zamboanga for its long-running prosthesis center.
“One of the thrusts of our district is partnerships,” said Rotary International District Governor August Soliman. “When we work alone, there’s not much we can do. But when we work with other partners, we can accomplish more together.” Soliman also pitched the prospect of partnering with Tzu Chi for other medical initiatives, like heart operations for pediatric patients. “We welcome more project partners for this because of the magnitude of the help that we’re going to do.”
No stranger to providing artificial limbs to the Philippines is Rotarian Baboo Kannan of the Rotary Club of Coimbatore Mid-town D3201. Through his district’s program called Walk Again, he has facilitated the creation and distribution of artificial limbs to more than 3,000 Filipinos all over the country.
“This is my first time here and we are fortunate enough to join with Tzu Chi,” he said. “You are doing a wonderful service to Filipinos as well as all over the world. On behalf of my district governor, I am giving my blessings and gratitude to this foundation for taking us as a partner. We are so honored. Thank you so much.”
For more than 20 years, Tzu Chi has been providing prosthesis (particularly above-and-below-the-knee legs) to indigent amputees through its Tzu Chi Great Love Physical Rehabilitation and Jaipur Foot Prosthesis Manufacturing Center in Zamboanga. The Center makes use of the traditional Jaipur technology, wherein limbs are fashioned out of rubber, plastic, and PVC pipe.
The Rotary-Tzu Chi Prosthesis Center employs state-of-the-art 3D printing to create prosthesis (artificial limbs) and orthosis (braces, splints, and other devices for support) made of plastic-based materials like PLA, PET, ABS, TPU, tape, and filament.
A technician uses a 3D scanner to scan the body part that needs a prosthesis or brace. Software modifies the scanned file to a patient’s specifications, and one of three 3D printers creates the piece. The first printer can print prosthesis sockets and smaller parts. The second printer can print insoles. The third printer can print bigger parts like a body brace for scoliosis, or an entire leg or arm. Depending on the size and thickness of the prothesis or orthosis, a piece can take 3-5 hours to be 3D-printed. Fiberglass or carbon is added to the 3D-printed prosthesis to reinforce its durability.
“This is very important for Tzu Chi Foundation because many of our fellowmen do not have access to high-quality prosthesis or substitute limbs,” said Tzu Chi volunteer Dolly Alegado Cruz. “We have many patients who are on a wait list for social services, and they cannot afford high-quality prosthesis.”
“On behalf of Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines, all our volunteers, our staff, and our supporters, we would like to thank Rotary Club, the various districts, and international district sponsors who believe and trust Tzu Chi’s way of providing service and medical assistance to our indigent fellowmen,” she added. “Thank you very much. Gan en.”