DEATH OF MR CHAZ HOLDER
Submitted by Derick S. Hartshorn
July 30, 2002
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP7-29-02) -- Chaz Holder, 55, a triple amputee who
devised a new way of making artificial legs and arms, died of a heart
attack at his home.
Holder invented lighter, cheaper prosthetic limbs that can be fitted in
less than half an hour with only a screwdriver. Not only had he begun to
sell them through his company, CZBioMed Enterprises, but he also
distributed them free to amputees in third world countries.
Enabledonline.com, a Web site that addresses concerns Of the disabled,
said, "By far, the devices built by CZBioMed Enterprises have the most
advanced design and are the most practical-to-use Prostheses available."
Last year, the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose selected Holder and
his invention for one of five awards for new technologies that have most
benefited humanity. He received the award for the innovation that most
improved human equality.
"While the new concept in prosthetics alone makes Holder a brilliant
problem-solver, he didn't stop there," the citation accompanying the
$50,000 award said. "He saw an opportunity to bring vastly improved
technology to the world's estimated 25 million amputees who do not have
access to expensive prosthetic limbs."
Holder attached 400 prosthetic devices on patients in Sierra Leone and
Vietnam, and had begun a program to distribute them in Afghanistan. Working
with the Marshall Legacy Institute of Alexandria, Va., he was at the time
of his death on July 4 completing the first phase of a contract with the
Army to provide prosthetic devices to people assigned to clear minefields.
Holder had lost his left arm below the elbow in an industrial accident in
the late 1970's, and in the early 1980's moved to Hilton Head, S.C.
He also raced Ferraris and in 1980, racing at Black Hawk Farms Raceway in
Wisconsin, suffered a near-fatal crash. He had burns over 60 percent of his
body and spent six months in a burn unit.
He continued to drive a manual-transmission Ferrari even after both of his
legs were amputated below the knee.
Around 1992, he began to incrementally lose his legs, in successive
operations. Ruth Clark, Holder's business partner, said doctors had
attributed their deterioration to the car accident and exposure to
chemicals during the Vietnam War.
He lost another part of his leg when he rebuilt an automobile engine in his
kitchen as a way to keep himself from being bored.
Even as he concentrated on selling his prostheses, he was working with a
local doctor trying to find new ways to control bone growth on an amputated
Holder was many things, including a Protestant minister, race car driver,
master mechanic, restaurant owner, anatomic illustrator, disabled rights
advocate and holder of a Cambodian medical degree.
Holder was never licensed as a doctor in the United States, Clark said, but
he was an associate member of the American Medical Association.
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