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Artificial limbs give new hope

Written by: Staff

Jaipur, Apr 2 (UNI) Jaipur definitely has a way with limbs. Its 'Jaipur Foot' is already a household name world over. Now 'Jaipur hand', 'Jaipur ear' and 'Jaipur nose' are lighting up lives and keeping hopes alive.

Kishan Lal Sharma (42), the only son of Ramchander Sharma-the architect of 'Jaipur Foot', is a one-man industry manufacturing these artificial organs from his home in a middle class locality here.

His USP -- the organs are light and match the exact skin tone of the patient, so much so that it is difficult to make a distinction between the real and artificial.

While growing up, Kishan intently watched his father chisel the 'Jaipur Foot' to perfection. But in 1995 when he came across a cousin, whose marriage was getting delayed due to a missing finger, he decided to carve out a wooden finger for her. ''I shaped and painted it before adjusting it on her hand,'' he recalls, but the finger lasted only till the marriage.

That set him thinking. The short life span of an artificial limb worried him. Kishan, who also works at the Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti here, then met a British national in 1998 who had come to the centre for 'Jaipur Foot'.

He suggested a different raw material for manufacturing the artificial body parts and even generously sent Kishan a sample, a kind of resin, which made all the difference.

Kishan who has studied till 10th standard, said, ''I create a mould of the body part with the synthetic powder, shape and chisel it and add or reduce the shade to match the skin tone. You can say it's handicraft. No sophisticated machinery for me. Just a small, simple tool box and no assistants as well. I work on off days and spare time and it takes seven to eight hours to complete an artificial organ.'' He said his artificially prepared body parts can be washed with soap and can withstand adverse weather conditions.

Operating from his family home, Kishan, however, has patients from as far as Uganda and Sweden apart from various parts of India.

He doesn't believe in publicity so his fame has grown only through word of mouth. Even then he gets four to five patients a month. So much so that his artificial organs are now prefixed as 'Jaipur Hand' and so on. He has even been honoured by the state government for his efforts in this field.

But Kishan admits that most of the patients who come to him are looking for their life-partners in the marriage market, and a lost finger, ear or toe poses a major hindrance. So they are ready to pay any amount to get them, even though these organs are only cosmetic and have problems with functioning.

Kishan says his rates are very reasonable. He charges Rs 2,500 per finger and Rs 5,000 per ear and nose. Kishan says his fingers have tapped the market but the nose is yet to pick up.

But he's not complaining because the beaming faces of his patients make him happy enough. His motto in life has always been 'Never leave anybody in a limbo.' UNI RRT SC VC0945

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