One Country's Medical Junk Is Another's Treasure

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 12:00 am  

David Lawyer, right, and John Kachelman of Life Resources International in Judsonia unload donated school items to prepare to ship to developing nations. The group collects donations from multiple schools, hospitals and other organizations.

As a prosperous nation with rapidly evolving health care and education systems, America replaces its technology just as quickly.

Some of that equipment, maybe used only once or twice, gets mothballed in attics and storage lockers, only to be rediscovered years later when an inspector mandates, "It's got to go."

Fortunately, people like John Kachelman have appeared to combat this problem.

In July, Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock cleared out an entire floor of discarded medical equipment, worth more than $1 million. A convoy of 10 trucks and a 53-foot trailer, led by Kachelman, arrived from Judsonia, loaded up the supplies and took them back to White County. There the equipment was inspected, repaired, categorized and appraised. Then it was shipped to Ukraine.

Kachelman has been involved with sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine and other developing countries since 1999. Kachelman, a minister at the Judsonia Church of Christ, moved to Searcy in the early 2000s and, after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, expanded his aid to include Sri Lanka.

"Then Tajikistan needed help and a lot of churches wouldn't send to them because they didn't have a mission point over there," Kachelman said. "Now we've shipped to Tajikistan and probably about 25 different foreign countries at this point."

In 2007, Kachelman's nonprofit group, called Life Resources International, was able to acquire a 22,000-SF warehouse in Judsonia for $30,000, paid for by a donation. Since then, more than 200 40-foot, 20,000-pound capacity containers of hospital equipment, school supplies and other items (including, once, a fire truck and ambulance) have been shipped overseas.

Don Eads, who works with Kachelman, said the group was rare among humanitarian donors.

"We're a nonprofit 501(c)(3)," he said. "We're all volunteers, with no paid employees. Most people have administration costs. All we have is utilities and incidentals."


Big Shipments

The Life Resources warehouse has filled up to its capacity and emptied out completely several times over its life. A great majority of the items are donated, mostly by hospitals and schools. Donations have come from as far away as Chicago, Memphis and Princeton, Ind., and from as nearby as White County Medical Center in Searcy.



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