Black Amputee Offered White Prosthesis


Ingrid Nicholls of Berkshire, England, was stunned to learn that after her foot was to be amputated, the hospital would offer her a white prosthetic limb. Nicholls is black.

The Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority normally covers the cost of prostheses for people like Nicholls. But the Royal Berkshire Hospital informed her she would have to pay out of her own pocket if she wanted an artificial limb that matches her skin colour.

Nicholls, who told BBC News 24 she felt “angry and hurt,” lodged a complaint. Once the story hit the media, the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority called the situation a “misunderstanding” and announced that funding had been found for a black prosthesis.

Now, the Royal Berkshire Hospital is exploring a new surgical technique that may allow Nicholls to keep her foot. Months ago, when Nicholls found out about the Ilizarov Technique on her own, her doctors discounted it. But now the hospital is giving her the opportunity to see a specialist in this treatment.

Nicholls is convinced that she is being given this chance only because of the publicity raised around the white prosthesis. “I’m suddenly getting the kind of treatment that everyone should be getting all the time,” she told the Reading Evening Post.

Although it has been a devastating experience, she added, “I’m really glad now that I made a fuss over being given a white artificial limb. It was really upsetting at the time but I know now that it won’t happen to anyone like me again in Berkshire.”


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