Mike and Alivia Rochon adopted Jude from an orphanage in Shanghai, China, after being directed to him by a special needs group. As soon as they saw him, they knew he was their son.
Jude was born without a hand and part of his forearm. He knows how to get along impressively without the limb, but certain simple activities require a lot of effort for Jude.
“Some things may take him longer or he does them differently – he figures out a way,” Alivia said. “He’s the most determined kid I have met in my life.”
However, as Jude entered first grade and was bullied for his missing limb, his parents were determined to find a way to help. They started researching prosthetics soon after, and ended up providentially getting connected to Dr. Chi of Oregon Health & Science.
Dr. Chi works as a trauma surgeon in his work week, but in his free time he works to make a difference for those born without limbs by crafting low-cost prosthetics, especially for children.
A prosthetic limb can cost up to $100,000, and many families are forced to figure out how to afford one for their ever-growing child, or if to get one at all. Three years ago, Dr. Chi was challenged by a mother to create a cheaper, more reasonable and efficient alternative for prosthetics, and he took her up on her challenge.
“Children are growing so quickly, so it doesn’t make sense to build them expensive prosthetic devices and replace them every year,” he said.
Dr. Chi figured out how to use the technology of a 3D printer to create cheap prosthetics, costing at most $50. However, the non-profit organization he works with, Enabling the Future, helps decrease even that fee. Free directions for the assemblage of a prosthetic are available on the organization’s website. Through this, anyone with access to a 3D printer has access to a prosthetic.
When Dr. Chi heard of Jude, he was eager to help. He crafted two prosthetics for him pro bono – both in orange and black as a tribute to Jude’s favorite sports team, the Oregon State Beavers. One defaults to an open hand and the other to a closed hand. It will take Jude a while to become fully accustomed to his new hand, but he is already capable of sending his mom emojis from his phone. In eighteen months, Dr. Chi will make Jude a new, bigger set of prosthetics.
With these new hands, Jude will be able to do things with ease that were difficult before, such as writing, playing sports, and riding on his new scooter, which was gifted him by OHSU.
Jude thanked the doctor with an OSU baseball cap and rode off on his scooter, gripping the handlebars with both hands and a new sense of freedom.