Pottery clay and the Prosthetic Project.

Pottery clay forms prostheses.

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Mana Rakangkaew greets his first patient early in the morning at Kaeng Khoi Hospital near Saraburi, Thailand. By midafternoon that patient will be fitted with a custom prosthetic leg. Rakangkaew spends his days molding prosthetic limbs, in part, with clay from Kohler’s pottery in Saraburi.

“I am very proud when people are happy to be independent,” said Rakangkaew, who himself wears aprosthesis. “I know better than anyone what a difference it makes to be able to do things yourself.”

How does a relationship form between a plumbing manufacturer and a man who has dedicated his life to fashioning prosthetic limbs?

“We’ve worked with the Kaeng Khoi Hospital for several years,” explained Kalchana Nettayawichit, Senior Human Resources Manager for Kohler Thailand. “When we learned of the extensive prosthetic projects being worked on, we knew we wanted to help.”

Kohler has long provided toilets, sinks and faucets to the hospital but recently began donating clay, the foundational raw material of vitreous china ware, to Rakangkaew’s project. Duan Malison, Manager of Industrial Relations Compliance for Kohler Thailand, worked with the hospital to determine the type of clay that best fits the prosthesis molding process and to help arrange funding for a proper facility for the manufacturing to take place.

In the new facility, Rakangkaew can make one prosthesis per day, which is provided free of charge to the patient, and, according to Rakangkaew, Kohler’s clay molds much better than clay he used in the past. The improved facility and manufacturing process has attracted patients from far outside of Saraburi, from Myanmar to Cambodia and Laos.


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