30 Mar '15, 11pm
Bolivian Knitters Are Saving the Lives of Children With Heart Defects
Bolivia’s indigenous Aymara women are mending broken hearts, and we don’t mean figuratively. The custodians of centuries-old knitting and weaving traditions, the women are applying their expertise to a decidedly modern cause: crafting minuscule plugs to fix the “holes in the heart” some babies are born with. “We are very happy; we are doing something for someone so they can live,” knitter Daniela Mendoza told BBC News on Sunday. Designed by La Paz–based cardiologist Franz Freudenthal, each top-hat-shaped “Nit Occlud” device takes about two hours to create. Employing local knitters was a simple solution to a complex problem. Although most occluders are factory-made, Freudenthal’s versions are too small and intricate to reproduce on an industrial scale.