Cuban Doctor Receives Cervical Collar

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By Tami Jayne Jackson

"The wheels go round," and they went round to help a Cuban doctor receive a much-needed Seattle Systems Malibu Cervical Collar.

In early November 2002, Seattle Systems received a phone call from Sandy Setliff with the Joni and Friends area ministry in Dallas, Texas. Joni and Friends, headquartered in Agoura Hills, California, was established by Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a paraplegic after a diving accident. The organization was gearing up to send volunteers to Cuba on a project called "Wheels for the World," in which they would distribute non-motorized wheelchairs.

Setliff called Seattle Systems because she had just received an e-mail request from Fidel Felipe Gonzales, MD, who specializes in infant psychiatry, for "Wheels for the World" to bring a Seattle Systems Malibu Cervical Collar when the group traveled to Cuba. He had specified his desire to use this particular product and sent a picture of it, explaining that it was difficult to obtain such cervical collars in the region where he lives.

Three months ago, Gonzales began suffering from persistent neurogenic neck pain that worsened with bodily movements. As muscular loss and inflammation followed, he tried wearing an available neck support system, a "Rustic Necklace," but it did not sufficiently immobilize his head and neck. Soon working became difficult for him.

When Gonzales received the Seattle Systems' Malibu Cervical Collar, he was elated. "After using this collar, I have been able to start working again," Gonzales said. "Now I can read and write the clinical histories of my patients, as well as to prescribe for them. Thanks so much to my donor friends for their altruism."

Where Do The Wheelchairs Come From?

According to Setliff, individuals, hospitals, and institutions donate wheelchairs to Joni and Friends when a loved one or client dies or outgrows them, or when someone exchanges a non-motorized version for an electric wheelchair. Upon receiving a wheelchair donation, Joni and Friends works with any one of five prison restoration sites where inmates mend and polish the product to "like-new" condition for worldwide distribution.

For more information about Joni and Friends, visit