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The Gambia to receive 1,000 prosthetic limbs from the charity Legs4Africa
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The Gambia to receive 1,000 prosthetic limbs from the charity Legs4Africa

A THOUSAND prosthetic limbs are to be taken to The Gambia thanks to a Falmouth-based charity.

Legs4Africa was set up by Phil Tunstall, a University of Exeter Cornwall biology graduate and teaching assistant at the campus.

It takes limbs from around the UK that cannot be reused here to give them a second life abroad.

Four years ago Mr Tunstall raised money to send one prosthetic leg to The Gambia and that heralded the beginning of the charity.

For the next trip, with ten legs, Gambia Airlines gave him and his team a free flight.

In April this year they collected 500 legs which they drove from the UK to the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul, The Gambia.

Since then the team has collected twice that amount and is fundraising to get them to where they are needed.

"I realised there was a massive waste of prosthetics," he said. "It is crazy. Around 15,000 get thrown away every year.

"Some hospitals have been keeping hold of them for a few years waiting for someone to take them as they know they have value.

"They are classed as medical waste. No-one wants a secondhand one when they can get a free new one on the NHS. There is no market in the UK.

"In The Gambia the major problem is diabetes and people lose legs and use makeshift crutches. Prosthetics are for the rich elite."

He said other countries in Africa have amputees as a result of civil wars and other conflicts.

Although there are volunteers across the UK, three are in Falmouth – Mr Tunstall, Megan Clarke, creative fundraiser, and Jerome Twell, film maker.

Mr Tunstall and Mr Twell have made a documentary about the charity to raise funds to transport the legs to Africa.

People can donate £4 by texting Legs444 to 70070.

"After this shipment, the hospital will have received more than 1,500 legs from ourselves, so we would like to start expanding our efforts into other African countries where amputation is a problem," said Mr Tunstall.

"We're hoping that if we can raise the £2,000 needed to get these shipped out, we can visit a unit in Ghana and Mali."

Visit www.legs4africa.org

Source: http://www.westbriton.co.uk

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