A Kenyan woman living in Regina, Canada has left many surprised and questioning different amputee organisations in the province of Saskatchewan after she was unable to find a prosthesis that matches her skin tone.
Rahab Wanjau has just lost her lower leg to amputation after a surgery last June but was shocked to find out that Regina’s Wascana Rehabilitation Centre couldn’t offer a prosthesis that goes with her skin colour.
The 30-year-old lady who is originally from Kenya, was forced to pick from two colors, “one very light and one very dark,”.
According to the Wanjau, the doctors told her she’ll need to pay extra if she needed one that matches her skin tone since it is not covered under her health card.
“We are in 2017 … every year we are getting new iPhones, new makes and models of cars — so why not something like a prosthetic leg, which is not a luxury at all? We need them. We don’t choose to be amputees,” Wanjau said.
“I’m not looking for a fancy foot shell; I just want a foot shell of my complexion.”
She then contacted the manufacturing company, Ottobock, which told her she could order a custom foot shell in her complexion but will have to pay directly. The company only regularly produces two colours for distribution to hospitals and clinics.
“In a country where the level of multicultural diversity is very high, like here in Canada, coming to learn that only two complexions are covered, that didn’t go down well with me,” said Wanjau. “I couldn’t understand why.”
According to Taryn Seel, a certified prosthetist at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, Wanju is among other 100 people facing the problem and have been trying to phone the hospital for enquiries.
She added that companies only supply foot shells that go over top of carbon fibre feet and, only in two or three skin tones.
“I guess because of the volume that manufacturers have to produce, they just have those limited options,” said Seel. “I would say greater than 50 per cent of our patients don’t utilize a cosmetic cover at all, so the colour and appearance of their prosthesis isn’t as important to them.
“Then we have patients on the other end of the spectrum who are very concerned about the appearance.”
Wanjau was born with a deformity of the lower tibia of her left leg. After five surgeries and trying almost everything, she was left with amputation as the only option.
Here is her full post on Facebook: