Utah community wants to give new hands to Ugandan man injured in industrial accident

Hands for Cosmas: A Utah community connects Ugandan man with second chance at life

(KUTV) A Ugandan man who lost his hands in an industrial accident a year ago is in Utah this week to receive new ones.

Opedmoth Cosmas is in Utah to be fitted with prosthetic hands that will help him continue living and working to support himself and his family. His second chance at life is thanks to a Utah County community who rallied and raised $30,000 to get him new hands.

Cosmas is 24 years old and took his first ride on airplane this week, it took 37 hours but was just the beginning of his adventure. His half-brother Reagan is by his side as support, a second pair of hands and the model after which his new hands will look.

Cosmas is receiving help thanks to the community of Mapleton. His story made it to the Wasatch Front thanks to a senior LDS missionary couple who shared his story on their blog.

Bernell Taylor and is wife, Ra Nae, are missionaries in Kampala, Uganda. They work with Reagan who serves in the area's LDS Elders Quorum working with male members of the church.

The Taylor's could see the loss Cosmas suffered and the weight it put on Reagan's family as well. Reagan has a wife and two young children. At the age of 27 he is the family Elder. There are no surviving parents, aunts or uncles. The two young men are left to care for each other and four nephews.

The brothers work live and work in a grass hut village. Reagan makes the equivalent of $.24 an hour working as a security guard. Cosmas has been unable to work since his accident in January 2015.

Cosmas lost his hands milling grain last when an auger stopped working.

"One hand got pulled in and then the other- but he only lost his skin."

Dr. Steve Aldana has spearheaded the effort to help Cosmas get medical attention in the U.S.. He says, "The real damage was done in the hospital by an incompetent doctor seeking financial gain."

Over a three-month period, Cosmas' fingers were amputated one by one.

Today, the 24-year-old man who is missing all but his thumbs sat in a Taylorsville Dentist office for his first ever dental cleaning. He was all smiles saying, "It is a good life for me."

After all he has been through, the young man believes there are many people in this world with far greater problems than his own. He is grateful for the help he has received from the Mapelton community.

"I was very happy, I am so happy." The brothers have seen a lot in the last week, had In and Out Burger, Taco Bell, hiked and gone to appointment after appointment.

The treatment, travel expenses and prosthesis will total nearly $40,000. The Mapleton community has raised $29,000. They've sold hats with the hashtag #handsforCosmas, held bake sales and other fundraisers.

"What's exciting is that 300 people they don't know made small little donations on the Hands for Cosmas website to pay for the trip."

After months of planning the two men arrived in Utah for what will be two weeks of appointments.

Over the weekend Reagan was able to help create molds for his brother's new hands. They will be identical to his own, right down to the finger prints. The mold will be used to make realistic gloves that Cosmas will be able to use for writing and looking normal again. The work for the gloves was done completely free of charge, just as their dental appointments today.

"It really does inspire me to see people provide their resources and their time to help people, and I'm just grateful I have the ability to help someone like him."

Dr. Scott McGavin of West Jordan Family Dentistry is one of many people donating his time and talents. Today his office was busy cleaning the young men's teeth and filling Reagan's cavities. Neither have seen a dentist before, but both were in remarkable good shape because of their non-westernized diet.

Talking today, in between his two-hour cleaning, Cosmas said it is nice to know he's "not alone in this world."

"We touch people and we create ripples, this is a big ripple in the world. It is far away, but it is a bigger ripple here for those of us who have helped him, than it will be in his life."

If you would like to help vist www.youcaring.com/cosmas-461006

For more information visit www.handsforcosmas.com/

For updates of what Cosmas is doing while in the U.S. go to the Facebook page.

Follow Heidi Hatch on Twitter @tvheidihatch for breaking news, updates and more.

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