August 25, 2004
OPERATION RESTORATION: Methodist Rehabilitation Center leads international effort to aid Iraqi amputees
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
FLOWOOD, Miss.—A Methodist Rehabilitation Center mission of mercy is coming to the aid of Iraqi civilians who have lost arms or legs in the war.
Employees of the Jackson hospital left today for Fort Hood, Texas to deliver a truckload of donated supplies. The U.S. Army will ship the equipment to the Baghdad area to be used in a free amputee clinic.
The clinic is being run by Steve Lindsley, a captain with the 112th Military Police Battalion out of Canton, Miss. When he’s not serving his country in Iraq, Lindsley fabricates and fits artificial limbs for patients of Methodist’s orthotics and prosthetics office in Monroe, La.
“He proposed the idea of providing a free clinic, and the Army has been incredibly supportive of the idea,” said Chris Wallace, director of Methodist’s Orthotics and Prosthetics division. “They’ve agreed to transport equipment to Steve and allow specified time away from his regular duties to seek out candidates who need this service.”
A certified prosthetist, Lindsley said he came up with idea of “Operation Restoration” after seeing the plight of Iraqi amputees. “Most either have never had a prosthesis or have one that is old and broken,” he said.
“They are extremely grateful for the help,” Lindsley said. “One of my patients is an above-the-elbow amputee and he is so excited about the opportunity to get an arm. He told me his mother prays for my health and safety each day and that he wants to thank George Bush for sending us here and freeing his country. He is a strong man, but was emotional and to the point of tears over this.”
Methodist asked prosthetic component suppliers such as Otto Bock of Minneapolis, Bulldog Tools of Ohio and Charles Kornegay of Georgia to donate equipment for the clinic, and Wallace says they were overwhelmingly generous. “Without their support, I don’t know that we would have been able to pull this off. They all chipped in to offset the costs of providing these devices for the Iraqi civilians.”
Ubon’s Restaurant in Yazoo City also pitched in by providing a trailer to transport supplies. Great Southern Industries in Jackson donated boxes for packing. And Signs First in Jackson contributed Operation Restoration signs for the transport vehicle.
The Army will deliver the supplies to Iraq. In the meantime, Lindsley has already scavenged enough equipment to begin seeing patients. “I think his position as a logistics officer has really helped, but I honestly think it is just Steve’s sincere nature that has given him the drive to want this to succeed.” Wallace said. “Right now he is doing the clinic once a week, but he is anticipating that will step up once he gets more supplies.”
Through contacts at local medical facilities, Lindsley has been able to identify about 145 amputees in the area, Wallace said. “On a recent day, he had about 75 screenings he was trying to accomplish.”
Lindsley said it has helped to have the support of his unit commander, logistics section and the third brigade combat team. “And Sgt. Chris Cummings, a member of the local civil affairs unit, has been invaluable to me in treating patients here. He owned an O&P central fabrication business in Florida before being deployed.”
Before his target return date of Feb. 5, Lindsley hopes to have a system in place for helping future amputees. “Steve has been in contact with a prosthetic school and is looking for an avenue to send Iraqi personnel there,” Wallace said. “Then they could possibly do a residency at our O&P division in Flowood.”