by Karoline Steavenson
When my son was in high school he ran on the cross country and track teams and developed a stress fracture in one of his leg bones; the tibia to be exact.
Stress fractures are tiny, hairlike cracks in the bone. They are a fairly common injury in professional and amateur athletes alike.
My son had to wear a cast for a few weeks and after the doctor removed the cast he had to wear a splint that looked like an open boot. It looked a lot like this:
After he was all healed up I did not throw the boot in the trash. First of all, I worried he might get another stress fracture and we’d need this boot again. Thankfully that did not happen.
Secondly, I knew from the construction of this piece of medical equipment that it must have cost the insurance company a lot of money. So far, while looking for this picture online, I’ve found prices ranging from $40 to over $150 for boots like this.
As this boot waited in the back of a closet for one job or another, I heard about medical supply recycling.
It is well known that many areas of the world have no medical care or only the bare minimum of medical services. Many charities and individuals travel to these nations to offer care. They are funded by a variety of organizations. Part of that funding goes into buying medical equipment.
Medical supply recycling programs collect donations of viable equipment that many of us take for granted, like crutches or my son’s boot, and redistribute those items to nations in need. Recycling those supplies that can be safely reused makes sense and saves charities money.
In my case I found an organization in California that could use this boot, boxed it up, paid a few dollars for shipping, and sent it to them. I emailed them in advance so I could confirm that they wanted it.
The American Medical Association has a list of medical supply recyclers here.