OCT 26, 2016 2:15 PM PDT

Bolivian women weave devices to repair children's heart defects


Aymara women at a laboratory in La Paz, Bolivia are using their traditional weaving skills to make small devices that can save children's lives. At 4,000 meters above sea level, many babies in La Paz are born with heart defects. Devices to fix such heart defects are typically made on an industrial machine, however because they are needed for newborns, the devices are too small to be machine made. This is where the women come in.

Weaving is an important part of Aymara tradition and the women train for four months in the laboratory to require the specific skills necessary to craft the delicate devices from nitinol metal. The device is capable of finding holes in the children's hearts and sealing them for an entire lifetime.

Forty women are capable of producing 250-300 devices per month and the company has already sold 7,000 devices to Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. Cheap solutions like this are priceless in Bolivia, which is one of South America's poorest countries.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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