A Roane County family has literally reached out a helping hand to a family in Argentina.
Joe Ross and his wife Carla are no strangers to stepping up and helping those in need.
Ross is a familiar face to 2016 flood victims. He is the chairman for Roane County’s Long Term Recovery Group. Helping out is just second nature to the Ross family.
This time around Joe and Carla, are stepping up to help a family on the other side of the globe.
The couple is now reaching out to help children who are missing a hand or an arm.
“In the U.S. if a child loses their hand, they’re going to get a prosthetic… they will. In Argentina not so,” Joe Ross shares.
This collaboration came together by chance when the Ross’s were vacationing in Mexico. That’s when they met William Cabrera and his son, Geronamo.
They shared with them plans to use 3D printing to make hands for children in Argentina.
At that point the couple knew they would do anything possible to help.
The Cabreras had traveled 17 hours to purchase 3D printers because Argentina’s trade laws make it impossible to have them shipped.
They are not strangers to this innovative technology after having used it to help other children.
But in order to continue helping they needed bigger and better 3D printers.
That chance meeting was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Simply stated, 3D printing is a process that creates a physical object from a digital design.
Medical applications are numerous, and prosthetic prototypes are “changing the face of medicine,” according to the federal National Institutes of Health.
And plans for helping even more children are progressing.
The Cabreras traveled to the United States this week, and stayed with the Ross’s at their Newton home.
While there the father and son team showed the couple how to use the 3D printers to create hands.
The couple are close to completing their first 3D hand.
It has been a learning process, and not easily completed.
It takes about 30 hours to create a hand this way because each part must be created separately. After being created the hand must then be assembled.
But the end result is worth all the work.
William Cabrera says that once the children receive their new hands they can hold objects and play.
While these types of hands cannot do as much as a prosthetic ones, but are “priceless” to families who can’t afford another option.
Materials to make the hands cost around $5.00 and the 3D printers cost around $1000, but the children and their families are not charged for their new hands.
The Cabreras say that the gratitude and smiles are far more valuable than money.
The couple now plan to make 3D hands here in West Virginia.
These will be used as transitional hands until the child can get a prosthetic.
They also hope to make hands for veterans once they get the hang of things.
But that’s not the end.
One of their goals is to get local high school and college students involved in the project.
Future plans also call for traveling to other countries to teach this methodology.
Carla Ross told us that she is the behind the scenes support on this project and would like to see it get more exposure.
Exposure is key to getting others involved.
She is happy to have this opportunity to “reach out to children in need.”