A PENSNETT surgeon has made history in Pakistan, by manufacturing the first artificial hand to be given to an amputee for free.
Viquar Qurashi, of Elgar Crescent, can usually be found walking the corridors of Russells Hall Hospital, where he works as a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon but in his spare time he is dedicated to helping amputees from overseas.
Over the past seven years, he has made and fitted more than 3,000 artificial legs for amputees in his home country of Pakistan, using mostly recycled materials but this is the first time that he has made an upper limb, which he described as a big challenge and a "turning point in his life".
Mohammed Fakaharuddin, lost his arm during an accident at the power plant, where he worked as a security guard.
The 27-year-old was put in touch with Mr Quarashi through National Rural Support Programme, a local sponsor of the surgeons charity, Naya Qadam, which he set up to protect the life and dignity of amputees.
Mr Quarashi said: "He lost his job, he had no support, he just sat at home, praying that someone would come and sort his life out, which is what I did.
"When I first spoke to him, I told him not to expect anything sophisticated so he was mentally prepared."
He made the hand using a discarded prosthetic hand from the Dudley hospital, which he fixed to Mohammed's arm using a cast and plaster of paris - secured by a strap around his back.
The patient then went home to Karak, an isolated area in the north of Pakistan, later that evening and sent Mr Qurashi photographs that showed him riding a bicycle, a motorbike and holding a large boulder.
Mr Quarashi said: "It was supposed to be cosmetic but it changed his life."
After seeing how well he adapted to having the cosmetic upper limb, Mr Qurashi decided provide Mohammed with a functional hand that could grip things, with a mechanism controlled by movement.
This was made using a hook-type contraption, which he then put a prosthetic hand over.
Mr Quarashi added: "He couldn't believe it, he was crying and embraced me. This was a turning point in my life, I can't believe I have done it. The way he reacted to me, I couldn't put a price on it. He's an entirely different person now."
He said he currently has the equipment to make at least a dozen more upper limbs, which cost less than £30 to make.
Mr Quarashi, who foots the bill for the cost and travel expenses himself, hopes that local hospitals will donate unwanted cosmetic hands that he can put to good use.
For more information about Mr Quarashi's work, visit www.nayaqadam.org