Shriners Helps Children Of Chernobyl

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FRONTENAC, MO (— Shriners Hospitals for Children in St. Louis is helping a Kansas City based charity fulfill its mission of helping the children of Belarus. Belarus took 70 percent of the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl when the nuclear power plant exploded 25 years ago, and still battles contamination problems. For several years, Project Restoration has brought children born with missing limbs to Shrine’s to get new prosthetic legs.

Darren Rottmann is the prosthesis working with the young people in my story. Seventeen year old Edward is missing his left leg. Kirill, another teenager, needs a right leg and his right arm is also affected. Twenty year old Tanya was born without legs and wears two prosthetic legs. She says having the artificial limbs gives her freedom to walk, dance, even run. Tanya says she could certainly get around in a wheelchair, but she would not be the same bubbly person. She recently ran a 5K race.

It takes a few weeks for measuring, casting, fabricating, sanding and shaping the prosthetics. Darren makes sure everything is just right before he puts the cosmetic covers over the prosthetic legs. He says to see these kids walk out of the hospital like any other child, is very rewarding to him.
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Project Restoration also sent Darren to Belarus to help children there. In addition to treating a half dozen kids, he also met with doctors there to update them on the latest technology. And doctors have come to St. Louis to train with people like Darren at Shriners. Darren says kids are kids whether they are in St. Louis or Belarus. Give them the tools and they’ll take it from there. They are a source of inspiration.

Project Restoration not only arranges trips for children to get prosthetic devices or orthopedic surgeries, but also just for brief respites away from the country still dealing with the aftermath of Chernobyl.

Project Restoration:

Shriners Hospitals: