Meet the man who saved over 20,000 animals with custom-made prosthetics! Derrick Campana, an animal orthotist from Sterling, Virginia, creates artificial limbs and braces to help animals in need and improve the quality and comfort of your lives.
This is Derrick Campana, he first began his medical career treating people with mobility issues but has since moved into a particular niche that was needed and not so commonly found -- prosthetics and orthotics for animals. From dogs, cats, horses, sheep, camels, gazelles and even elephants!
Campana told Moneyish, "I was doing the whole 'human thing' … but a vet brought in her dog, who needed a prosthetic, to my human practice. I made a prosthetic that was a success, and I immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life."
This four-legged breakthrough came to him 15 years ago. He cast a mold of the pup's leg, and handcrafted an artificial limb from thermoplastics, as materials like carbon fiber are more expensive and less modifiable.
Jabu the Elephant
Crafting a leg brace for a five-ton, 30-year-old Botswana bull elephant named Jabu, was one of the biggest challenges Campana faced.
"There was a lot of stress with Jabu, whose life is threatened while he's lame. Another bull may try to attack him, or he could fall again," said Campana, who spent months working on a brace for Jabu's leg. He's made prosthetics for elephants before, but this was his first elephant leg brace.
Another great challenge, even though it may not look as giant as Jabu, was creating four prosthetic legs for a quadruple amputee pup Chi-Chi, who was rescued from the South Korean meat trade.
Look how happy Chi-Chi is today!
When it comes how the animal tends to react to their new prosthetics, Campana said, "They all give me that stressful moment when I first fit the brace or prosthetic, because I don't know how the animal is going to react to it." And while he can guarantee his customers that his custom piece will fit the animal, it doesn't always guarantee that the animal will accept it. He added that you can't reason with animals the way you can and would with people about simply practicing with the brace and adjusting it affording to make it more comfortable.
One of Campana's happy stories is about Charles, the chocolate lab, who came into his office afraid with his tail between his legs and left with a prosthetic right leg and turned into such a happy pup. "He was running around, tail wagging, smiling … he just seemed so happy, and his owner was crying," Campana recalled. "It's the best feeling in the world, and you want to replicate that."
Animal Ortho Care, Campana's business first began about 15 years ago, and has since helped 20,000 animals in need! Plus, his custom-made braces and prosthetics are much more affordable than surgery or human prosthetics (which can range anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000!). Campana's pieces are created from medical-grade plastics before being custom-made to fit each individual animal. His braces usually cost $500 and prosthetics $1,000.
Campana's Animal Ortho Care is one of only a handful of services in the world specializing in designing prosthetic limbs and orthotic braces for animals! Campana is trying to spread awareness that things such as dog prosthetics exist and it's possible to your loved ones a second chance at life.
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