#IGiveBeyond: Through Limbs with Love, teenager Meghana Reddy creates prosthetic hands using a 3-D printer and provides them free-of-charge to those in need.
It started with a family visit to India. Meghana Reddy, a high school student, made a side trip to an orphanage in a remote village. That’s where she met two children without hands.
“I was moved by the sight of the children and wanted to help them,” she said.
Despite the fact that commercially available prosthetic devices are expensive (They can cost between $4,000 and $40,000.), Reddy wasn’t deterred. As soon as she returned home, she researched everything she could about 3D printers. “3D printing significantly lowered the cost of prosthetic limbs,” she said.
A prosthetic hand made from a 3D printer can cost as little as $50. That’s a much more affordable option, especially for children who continue to grow. One grandparent wanted to purchase a hand for her grandchild, but the $4,500 price was too expensive — especially since she would need a new prosthetic the following year.
That’s why Reddy started Limbs with Love. “I thought many people could benefit from this technology.” Limbs with Love provides prosthetic hands free-of-charge to children and adults around the world. Since 2014, her non-profit has helped close to 100 people by partnering with other related organizations internationally to receive requests and take relevant measurements needed so each prosthetic can be customized for proper design and fit.
Reddy, president and founder of Limbs with Love, recruited students at Francis Parker High School, in San Diego, Calif., where she is a senior, to help. “Limbs with Love is mainly run by high school students who design and make the prosthetics,” she said.
She also works with students at other high schools and has put together a board of advisors, including her parents, who help with the fundraising. Although the costs of creating 3D prosthetics are much cheaper than those that are commercially made, fundraising is an important part of Limbs with Love. The labor is all volunteer and the fees needed pay for materials, 3D printers, upkeep of those printers, and shipping costs.
“We do not have any administrative fees for running Limbs with Love,” Reddy explained. “Therefore, one hundred percent of your donation goes towards helping children and adults who receive the prosthetics.”
Reddy finds it hard to describe her feelings when a hand is donated to a person in need. “So far the recipients are all very happy and are left speechless sometimes,” she said. “When I provided a prosthetic hand to a college student, he told me, ‘This is going to change my life forever.’ He also said he used to hide his partial hand in his coat pocket. Now with the newly acquired prosthetic hand, he proudly shows it off.”
In addition to designing and distributing prosthetics to those in need, Reddy works to educate and inspire others to get involved. Another goal that she’s working on is starting 3D printing clubs in her community and getting students interested in how to use the technology to benefit others.
Last year, Reddy was one of 25 students from all across North America who received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which celebrates young people who are making a positive impact in their communities, on people, and the environment.
The high school student is not one hundred percent certain what she wants to do in the future. She’s interested in science and social work and “I will continue to pursue both through Limbs with Love,” she said.
April 03, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN