Prosthetist helps Haitians ahead of Hurricane Matthew

Posted at 3:35 PM, Oct 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-09 15:50:06-04

CINCINNATI -- On his trip to Haiti a few weeks ago, someone walked eight hours to see Ryan Spill.

That's a long trip for an average person. The people coming to see Spill are not average people: He's a prosthetist, and the people who see him are missing hands, feet, sometimes limbs.

Spill works with Stand Up 4 for Haiti, and his last trip came just days before Hurricane Matthew struck the island nation. Hundreds have died.

Spill left before the storm arrived.

"People down there in this community were not aware that there was a Category 4 hurricane coming," he said. "A lot of parents -- one of our clinicians who runs a mission down there for disabled children and orphans, she reached out to a lot of the parents of the kids, and they just weren't even aware that this was coming. And that's the dangerous part of it."

Ultimately, everyone Spill knew was safe. When he goes to Haiti, he takes simple prosthetics Tri-State patients have donated to help the people there weather life's storms. Depending on the age, growth and activities of the wearer, prosthetics can last anywhere from several months to several years, according to experts.

MORE: Read about what Spill saw in a 2014 visit

One girl Spill saw was living without a leg; a boy had gone has whole life without hands and feet.

"He never walked, and because of that, he had these very thick callouses on both of his knees because he crawled everywhere," Spill said.

And what do they get? Physical therapy, massages, acupuncture, cupping and, yes, prosthetics -- donated from Cincinnatians -- that have been refurbished and fit specially for them. Or, in some cases, they get their own poorly fitting prosthetics repaired.

Watch the video above to see more from Spill's trip to Haiti. Click here to learn more about Stand Up 4 Haiti.


Ryan Clark contributed to this report.