This limb centre in Mangalore gives legs to hope

This limb centre in Mangalore gives legs to hope

Workers make artificial limbs at the Lions Artificial Limb Centre in Mangalore. DH photo

The Centre is the brainchild of three doctors Dr V V Mody, Dr Modayil, Dr B R Rama Rao and their entrepreneur friend K V Pai. It came into existence in 1964 to be the first artificial limb centre in Karnataka (third in South India). 

The Centre, which is currently run by a trust of like-minded people, has provided artificial limbs to nearly 75,000 people in the last 47 years. Speaking to Deccan Herald, Pai said the founders struck upon the idea of opening the Centre during their visit to the limb centre in Vellore in 1963.

“Those were the days when people had to literally struggle to get artificial limbs. After the Indo-Pak war, all limb centres were booked for the service of the armed forces and civilian requirements were hard to meet. At such a crucial point in time, we started the Centre with an initial fund of Rs 10,000 collected from school children at one anna (six paise) each,” he recalls. Soon after the launch, the Centre got funds of Rs 3 lakh under the Vocational Rehabilitation Fund of USA.

The Centre, which functions in a building adjacent to the District Wenlock Hospital, gets a minimum of 100 patients a month. While the extremely poor patients are given appliances free of cost, the rest get discounts.

Project Director of the Centre and renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr M Shantharam Shetty says the Centre has 14 trained workers who make artificial limbs, calipers, splints, spinal belts and functional braces at its premises.

"We buy the raw materials from Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO), a Government of India undertaking. Till five years ago, ALIMCO was reimbursing the amount of the appliances. But now it has stopped doing so and we are in a little trouble. My request to the elected representatives in this regard has gone in vain," says Dr Shetty.

Patients from Kerala and neighbouring districts like Hassan, Madikeri, Udupi, Chikmagalur and Karwar have benefited from the Centre.