How prosthetic limbs help users rekindle their lives

Prothea hailed for comfy, affordable and flexible 3D-printed limbs

In Summary

•  Three beneficiaries revisit how nature or accident led to the loss of their limbs

• Life after amputation was difficult until they came across the 3D assistive tech

Beneficiary Stephen Ochieng’ on the catwalk during a function organised by Prothea at Kindaruma Business Centre, Nairobi on February 8
Beneficiary Stephen Ochieng’ on the catwalk during a function organised by Prothea at Kindaruma Business Centre, Nairobi on February 8

In 2011, Stephen Ochieng’, 32, was on his way to Muthurwa, where he used to work as a welder. As fate would have it, Stephen did not get work on that day. He was run over by a train and lost both his legs in the process.

A good Samaritan came to Stephen’s rescue when he found him writhing in agony. With the help of other people, he arranged and took Stephen to the Kenyatta National Hospital to receive treatment.

“The nurses attended to me swiftly and I was later referred to the orthopedic department,” he said.

“I remember a surgeon by the name Nicholas made and fitted me with my first prosthetic limbs. I knew my life would never be the same.”

Stephen felt like all his dreams and ambitions were shattered. His prospects in life looked bleak given the ordeal he faced.

Slowly but surely, he started picking himself up and living his life with no excuses. The prosthetic limbs he had really came in handy. He could not imagine having to crawl or be carried by people since he had lost his legs.

Stephen used to get psychosocial support from those who were attending to him in the hospital and his family. This helped carry him through the various hurdles he faced as an amputee.

Fast-forward to 2023, and a doctor called Michael Onyango introduced him to Prothea Kenya, a company that makes advanced 3D-printed prostheses.

“By around April, I got the Prothea 3D-printed prosthetic limbs. They were far less expensive compared to the ones I was using previously. They were also quite comfortable,” he said.

“I underwent a week- long training on how to use the prosthesis, and I am now well able to use them to walk and go about my activities,” he said.

Stephen is now a shoemaker in Dandora and can earn a living to support his family. He has a wife and a two-year-old daughter.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million people undergo limb amputation every year, with the major causes being diabetes and road accidents. In Kenya, the number of people needing prosthesis is increasing by the day.

A number of prosthetic companies have been on the forefront in helping to curtail the number of amputees who are unable to access quality prosthetic services in the country.

Prosthetic companies in Kenya include Gateway Prosthetic and Orthotics, Ottobock Kenya, Prorth Prosthetics and Orthotics services, Prothea Kenya and Orthotics Kenya.

Quality prostheses have given amputees a chance to maintain and regain their mobility.


Tessie Jepkogei, nine, was born with a condition called tibial hemimelia. Due to the severity of the condition, she had to be amputated at the age of one. After the amputation was conducted, Tessie got a prosthetic limb to help her walk.

Tibial hemimelia, also known as tibial deficiency, is a condition in which a child is born with a tibia (shinbone) that is shorter than normal or missing altogether. This causes a difference in the length of the child’s legs. Tibial hemimelia is an extremely rare congenital condition.

Tessie’s mother Gladys Jerono said the girl needs multiple surgeries because she is growing.

“She had her second surgery in 2020, which was conducted successfully, She’s supposed to go for her third surgery next year, hopefully. She will undergo a series of surgeries until she’s around 18 years old,” she said.

Benedict Odhiambo, a prosthetist at Prothea Kenya, said through-knee amputation remains the most commonly recommended procedure for tibial hemimelia.

“You see now, Tessie can walk and even play without any hindrances. If the amputation is not done in good time, a person with the condition may be forced to use crutches or a wheelchair for the rest of their life,” Benedict said.

Tessie, a jovial and soft-spoken girl, has a chance to go about her daily activities with ease thanks to the advanced prosthetic limbs she has.

The Grade 3 pupil at Limo School in Eldoret aspires to be a doctor. Thanks to the Prothea prosthetic limb, she can ride a bicycle like any other able-bodied person.

Her mum says despite the challenges her daughter has, she has always been proud of her and is Tessie’s biggest support system alongside her teachers at Limo School.

The journey has not been easy, but the prosthetic limbs I have been using throughout my life have helped me not just to regain my mobility but also to see myself like any other person who can go after their dreams regardless
Belinda Anyango


Belinda Anyango, 29, was hit by a lorry at the age of three, while crossing a nearby petrol station with older friends. As a result of the accident, she had to get her left limb amputated from the knee downwards.

She had to start homeschooling since she had no assistive device to help with her mobility. At age six, she was taken to a nearby school and her cousins had to carry her to school since she still did not have a prosthetic limb to aid in her movement.

At age seven, she met an Indian man who got her a prosthetic limb from the Jaipur Foot Project, a social services organisation based in Nairobi.

Later, she was transferred to Olympic Primary School in Class 7. She says life at Olympic Primary School was difficult for her since her schoolmates would call her names and make fun of her every waking moment.

Moreover, the washrooms were not modified to assist persons with disabilities. The desks were not comfortable to sit on, given that she was using prosthetic limbs, and the classrooms were hard to access as there were no ramps to help her enter.

“Thankfully, there were teachers who were good and kind to me, and this enabled me to overcome all the negativity I got from some of the schoolmates,” she said.

Belinda cleared primary school and was admitted to Elite Girls High School in Nyahururu. She was the only student who was disabled in the entire school.

The school’s administration took it upon themselves to construct modified washrooms specially for her. They also built four ramps in each entrance to some of the school’s classrooms.

“The climate in Nyahururu was not favorable to me because Nyahururu was usually cold, and this started affecting my chest,” she said.

“The doctor advised me to transfer to another school with favourable climatic conditions as the climate there made me continually fall sick.”

Thus, Belinda transferred to St Michael’s Girls High School in Thika in Form 2. Life was not easy at the new school either, but she met a student called Ruthsella Wambui, who encouraged her to stay strong.

She cleared high school and later on joined Maseno University, where she pursued journalism and mass communication. Unfortunately, Belinda had to cut short her education at the university because her parents were also supporting two of her siblings who were in high school at the time, and this left them in dire straits financially.

“Since I was determined to complete my tertiary education and make something out of my life regardless of the circumstances, my parents took me to Nairobi Aviation College, Kisumu Campus,” she said.

It was less costly than the university and in due time, she graduated.

“I was willing to do all it took in the hopes of changing my situation and that of my family,” she said.

“I wanted to be living proof that persons with disabilities are also relevant in society. I believe disability should not define who we are.”

Belinda had used the Jaipur prosthetic limb for 26 years when she got pregnant. She did not feel like the prosthesis she was using was flexible any more.

She started experiencing back pains, and that is when she thought of getting a better prosthetic limb that was comfortable and flexible to walk with.

Through partial financial support from the National Council of People with Disabilities and a fundraising she had organised, Belinda got a prosthesis from Gateway Prosthetics, which she used for one month.

She heard of Prothea Kenya from friends and visited their offices in October 2023. She managed to get an advanced 3D prosthesis from Prothea Kenya with the extra money she got from the fundraising.

“Luckily, the 3D prosthesis from Prothea Kenya was more affordable, light, comfortable to use and of high quality,” she said.

Belinda describes herself as a diligent, outgoing, sociable and self- driven woman who is here to make a difference.

Right after clearing her tertiary education, she joined Liverpool VCT Health in Kibera, where she was trained to become a mentor, a facilitator and a teacher on sexual reproductive health rights.

She later joined Action Network for the Disabled (Andy), where she educated healthcare workers and policymakers on disability matters.

“My mum has been my pillar of strength, my sounding board and my best friend through it all. God’s grace has been sufficient,” she said.

“The journey has not been easy, but the prosthetic limbs I have been using throughout my life have helped me not just to regain my mobility but also to see myself like any other person who can go after their dreams regardless.”

Alex Kisyanga, the chief orthopedic technologist at the Ministry of Health, said that the government is committed to supporting prosthetic companies and other key players through creating an enabling environment for them.

Speaking in a prosthetic workshop on February 8 in Nairobi, he said this will be done through the Ministry of Health.

“The Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Strategy 2022-26 has set clear objectives on what the sector wants to achieve,” he said.

“Companies that provide prosthetic services are welcome to claim their space and do what they aspire to do to make sure the amputees in the country are well taken care of.”

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