Founded by students from Yale and Brown universities, Penta Medical Recycling is a nonprofit organization repurposing used prosthetic limbs for people with amputations in Southeast Asia. Penta has sent approximately 700 prosthetic devices to Vietnam, Thailand, and elsewhere in the region since 2016, providing over 270 people with high-quality repurposed limbs to date. The organization recently entered a contract to provide Vietnam’s Young Physicians Association with 6,000 limbs over the next three years as part of a major healthcare project.
Due to liability issues, prosthetic devices cannot be reused within the United States, which results in potential waste of millions of dollars of high-quality, functional medical equipment annually. For the 500,000 amputees in Vietnam, a prosthetic limb represents an opportunity to find work, return to school, and re-enter society. The $15,000-$20,000 cost ofnew prostheses in Vietnam keep them out of reach for many people. Through Penta’s partnership with the Young Physicians Association, a subsidiary group of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, the nonprofit can provide the repurposed prostheses at no or very low cost to those in need.
Penta works with prosthetic distributors and manufacturers, as well as national and local prosthetic clinic chains to collect used devices. Their collection partners also encourage individuals with amputations to send any devices they no longer use.
As Penta’s operation expands and demand for the repurposed devices increases, it is seeking new sources for limb donations, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The organization is also seeking the expertise of those with experience and interest in healthcare, amputee services, nonprofit work, logistics, and law to help it continue increasing its capacity.
Penta’s founders—Henry Iseman, Trang Duong, and Victor Wang—were listed on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30: Healthcare list and have received several grants and awards, including Yale’s Rothberg Catalyzer Prize, the Brown Venture Prize, an OZY x JP Morgan Genius Award, and a grant from the Clinton Global Initiative.