00:00:00
/
00:00:00
 
Press Play to start audio

November 29, 2007

broken_bone.jpg

a black and white drawing
Lew Zirkle's invention

A Fix For Broken Bones

A FIX FOR BROKEN BONES

As third world countries become more developed, improved transportation means more and more people are riding bicycles and motorbikes instead of walking. In places like Kathmandu, Accra and Hanoi, entire families zoom unprotected through traffic lights on a single motorbike. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in an explosion of accidents and broken bones. In the developing world, deaths and injuries from orthopedic trauma now outnumber malaria, TB and AIDS combined. 

Often local medical facilities have no way to fix the broken bones. That's changing thanks to a simple invention by a Washington state orthopedic surgeon named Lew Zirkle. It was while he was working as a doctor during the Vietnam War that Lew first became aware of how civilians suffered in places where good medical care was not available. After the war, using money from his private practice, he began traveling and training local surgeons in Western methods. Then one day he met a man who'd been in a hospital bed for 3 years, unable to get treatment for a simple broken leg. Lew went home and invented an affordable surgical implant, started a company, and built a network of surgeons to spread the word about the new device.       

Our Family

Sharon MacNeil's husband Eric died of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 17 months after they were married. He was diagnosed and began treatment almost immediately, leaving him the chance to save just one sperm sample. Close to ten years later, Sharon had not re-married, and she kept thinking about (and paying rent for) Eric's frozen sperm. She had one chance to try to get pregnant with the sperm. She conceived and she is now carrying twins - a boy and a girl. She is, as she tells Dick, "looking forward to raising the family we should have raised together."

You might also like…

Daily Story Update

Get daily updates and special announcements about The Story.
 

Produced by

WUNC North Carolina Public Radio 91.5 logo