Rebuilding Limbs with Ingenuity and a 3-D Printer
He had endured a weeklong journey from Los Angeles, with stops in London, Johannesburg and Nairobi before reaching Juba, the capital of South Sudan. From there, he flew on a small twin-engine plane to Yida, where at a refugee camp he found Daniel Omar.
Ebeling had read a magazine article a few months earlier about the 16-year-old, whose hands and forearms had been blown off two years ago during an airstrike launched by the Sudanese government. The boy’s plight resonated with Ebeling, who tracked down the remote hospital where Daniel had received treatment. Over Skype, Ebeling told Daniel’s doctor: I think I can help.
After meeting in Yida, Ebeling and Daniel caught an 11-hour ride in the back of a Land Cruiser to Gidel, Sudan, a volatile region in the Nuba Mountains where Daniel’s doctor tends to amputees and other victims of the civil war plaguing the country.
In a small tin shed, Ebeling connected a 3-D printer to a laptop. The printer began melting plastic to form three-dimensional pieces, which he then joined together like Legos. He worked off a design created by a carpenter friend who, after accidentally severing four fingers with a table saw, had built his own prosthesis.
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