Bolivian Knitters Are Saving the Lives of Children With Heart Defects

by , 03/30/15   filed under: Eco-Fashion News

Bolivia, knitting, design for health, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Aymara, Nit Occlud, cardiology, La Paz, Franz Freudenthal, heart defects

Photo by Elzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock

Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara women are mending broken hearts—and we don’t mean figuratively. The custodians of centuries-old knitting and weaving traditions, the women are applying their expertise to a decidedly modern cause: crafting minuscule plugs to fix the “holes in the heart” some babies are born with. “We are very happy; we are doing something for someone so they can live,” knitter Daniela Mendoza told BBC News on Sunday. Employing local knitters was a simple solution to a complex problem. Designed by La Paz–based cardiologist Franz Freudenthal, the top-hat-shaped “Nit Occlud” devices are too small and intricate to reproduce on an industrial scale.

Bolivia, knitting, design for health, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, Aymara, Nit Occlud, cardiology, La Paz, Franz Freudenthal, heart defects

Photo by Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

KNIT TOGETHER

Then there is the matter of Bolivia itself, a country that ranks among South America’s poorest. With its dearth of specialist hospitals and doctors to treat children born with heart defects, low-cost innovations are more than copacetic.

The devices are made with a single strand of nitinol, a super-elastic nickel-titanium alloy that folds up inside a catheter for easy insertion into the groin. The occluder remains in its compact form as it journeys through the blood vessels, recovering its original shape only when it reaches its destination in the heart.

RELATED | 87-Year-Old Woman Knits 1,000 Sweaters For Charity

Because manipulating a heart is taboo in some Bolivian communities, the procedure’s minimally invasive approach is an added boon.

“By not operating with an open heart, we are also respecting the will of many patients who would not want their children to be operated otherwise,” said Freudenthal, who has garnered international accolades for marrying time-honored craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology.

The results speak for themselves: Freudenthal has successfully used his occluders on hundreds of children and now exports them across the globe.

[Via BBC News]

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments.

Add your comments

NEW USER


Do you live in Canada? Register here

I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.

You must agree to receive emails from this site to subscribe.

CURRENT USERS LOGIN

Lost your password?