Mohamed Hatab is a visionary who wanted to change the face of disability in Egypt. He founded “Hand in Hand”; a non-profit organization that manufactures 3D printed prosthetic arms. He’s an engineer with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Glasgow in the UK.
“My passion for engineering and my wish to give back to the community is what led me to found Hand in Hand.”
We sat down with Mohamed to know more about his wonderful initiative!
What inspired you to found this initiative?
Back in 2006, I have diagnosed with Leukemia; blood cancer. My experience with cancer taught me the importance of supporting others in times of need. I was very fortunate to have a supportive environment around me. That support sparked an urge inside of me to give back.
After finishing 13 years of studying in the UK, I knew it was time for me to come back to Egypt and start my engineering career. My urge to give back to the community had grown, I wanted to use what I’d learned all those years to help others.
I did some research and I remembered coming across 3D printed prosthetics at University, I knew these devices would be much needed in Egypt. So, I went ahead and ordered my first 3D printer. After about 2 months, I had my first prototype; a fully functional 3D printed prosthetic arm.
My first patient was a 5- year-old girl who was born missing a portion of her arm. After taking some measurements, I started designing and producing her customized prosthesis. Two weeks later, it was time to fit her with the device.
“That moment was life-changing. The happiness I felt once she was able to hold something in her hand for the first time was immeasurable.”
That was the moment I knew I wanted to help enable the amputee population to live better lives.
What are the biggest challenges people who have experienced amputation face in Egypt?
Amputees face a variety of physical and mental struggles that go unnoticed by the average person on a daily basis. Most amputees assessed by Hand in Hand have reported that they have struggled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. Especially those who had been amputated due to accidents or mishaps.
Amputees also face social isolation, anxiety, self-esteem issues, discrimination in career and educational aspects, and both verbal and physical bullying.
Hand in Hand provides a psychological assessment for people needing a prosthetic limb. Why is this important?
“Assessing our cases physically, socially, and psychologically helps us provide a well-rounded approach to help all patients who come to Hand in Hand.”
Our psychological assessments help us determine what the amputee needs in terms of psychological rehabilitation and whether or not they will be able to adapt to the needs and challenges of living with a prosthetic. It also helps us understand whether the amputee will need motivational therapy or assistance in coping with his daily stressors.
How is the prosthetic arm specialized for each person?
We take measurements of the affected and unaffected limbs using various manual and tech methods such as tape measurements and 3D scanning. The prosthetic is then 3D printed to the designated size.
This means that each case gets a customized prosthetic that suits both their age and their size.
How does a person’s life change after acquiring the limb?
Receiving the prosthesis gives the amputee a sense of confidence as well as assurance that they can blend into the community with more ease.
“The enhanced psychological state paves the way for a better quality of life that allows amputees to carry out essential daily tasks that once seemed impossible.”
Those include lifting objects as well as eating and drinking. It also gives them access to a wider range of job opportunities.
How much do people have to pay for your services?
Our service is completely free of charge and we do not require patients to pay for everything. Our main goal is to help improve their lives.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
The two biggest challenges we face are finding amputees in need of our services and educating the public on our cause and the proper way of dealing with a person with a disability.
We are constantly growing our network of foundations that serve as our main source of referrals. At the moment, we have worked with people from 22 governorates across the entire country.
In terms of educating the public, we are currently working on a few campaigns that aim to raise awareness about the cause and the mental distress people’s actions cause.
What are your future aspirations?
I see a very bright future for Hand in Hand. We aim to not only expand within Egypt but to expand within the entire region and help improve the lives of the amputee population in Africa and the Middle East. We also aim to expand the range of products and services we offer to cater to a wider range of amputations.
Click here to follow up on Hand in Hand’s wonderful work.