Ottobock sends more than 100 wheelchairs to Beirut after port explosion

When companies act as philanthropist, the general public does not necessarily buy into it. It sees it as a double game, with ideas of profit in the back of his mind. But there, it is clear that the gesture is beautiful. German company Ottobock, which specializes in design of prosthetic and orthopedic components, has just launched a humanitarian operation to send wheelchairs to Beirut. All this after the terrible explosion on August 4 in the city’s port, causing at least 181 deaths and many more injuries.

Ottobock therefore sent a first shipment of hundred wheelchairs to relieve the many injured. Only advertised with a brief post on its website, without trying to “over-sell” the information in the media. A rare attitude that must be pointed out. Explanations.

The Beirut explosion, thousands injuries

There will be a before and after August 4th, 2020 in Lebanon. Around 6 p.m., a first explosion shook the city, without too much damage but with a thick toxic cloud dispersing in the sky. Moments later, 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in one of the port’s hangars triggered an explosion of a violence, rarely seen. A large part of the city is destroyed, 181 dead and more than 4000 injured are to be counted. 4000 people who will probably need orthopedic equipment or wheelchair. Hence the awareness of Ottobock.

A leading company

For it is not just any company that sends material. Founded in Berlin in 1919, the Ottobock company known for its Paexo exoskeleton series, first attempted to meet the needs of crippled WWI fighters. It became then a pioneer in many areas, such as the introduction of polyurethane in the manufacture of orthopedic prostheses. In 1953 the idea of prostheses made entirely from plastic emerged, which allowed their democratization. Ottobock finally participated in the creation of the C-leg, this electronic knee prosthesis allowing it to match the patient’s muscle and bone dynamics. An invention made famous by South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius. An innovative company, but which does not hesitate to help others.

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Orthopedic prostheses will follow.

It is through its foundation, based in Duderstadt (along with its offices) that Ottobock is able to coordinate this operation. People need our support quickly now. The majority of the Lebanese population lives in Beirut. So almost all families are affected by the disaster,” said Professor Hans Georg Näder, owner of Ottobock. Please note that this shipment of wheelchairs is just a trial run. “We will then discuss with the humanitarian organizations already on the ground to find out to what exactly are in particular the need regarding prostheses”, says the chairman of the board of directors Karsten Ley. Deliveries are handled by Zufall, Ottobock’s long-standing logistics partner. All equipment is shipped from the port of Hamburg. Due to the destruction of most of the infrastructure in Beirut, the seats will be received at the port of Tripoli, Libya. Logistics remain extremely important, especially in view of a potential second shipment of equipment. You can find all the details of the operation here.

This is only the beginning of a magnificent humanitarian operation, masterfully led by a private company. And who should appeal to others. Humans are unfortunately not done waging war or injuring themselves …