International student in Ottawa launches campaign to raise money for new prosthetic leg

Published: August 29, 2014

Carleton University PhD student Selvan Mohan is trying to raise money to buy a a new prosthetic leg. James Park / Ottawa Citizen


A Carleton University PhD student from Malaysia has launched a fundraising campaign to replace his worn-out prosthetic leg.

Selvan Mohan, 24, was born without a tibia, kneecap and ankle and used crutches until the age of 12, when his leg was amputated and he was fitted with a prosthetic leg.

“I was really happy to actually get my prosthetic leg and walk as a normal person,” Mohan said. “I felt like everyone else when I got my prosthetic leg.”

Mohan was fitted with his third prosthetic leg five years ago. That’s about how long they usually last.

When Mohan’s prosthetic leg started to fail earlier this year, he was shocked to learn the cost of a new one. Mohan has international student insurance through the university that will cover $10,000 of the almost $22,000 price tag. But his mother doesn’t work and his father makes just enough to get by, so they aren’t in a position to help him.

The Citizen chatted with Mohan about the campaign he hopes will help him to raise more than $11,000 to replace his prosthetic leg so he can participate on his bicycle in the Sept. 14 Terry Fox race.

How did the campaign to raise money get started?

The largest problem I faced was because I’m not a Canadian citizen. I got together with a few friends, put up the video and set up the site. Everyone brainstormed into it. It was a huge group effort.

Why did you require a prosthetic leg?

I was born with a missing tibia, kneecap and ankle. This is a one-of-a-kind case. My parents were trying to, as any parents would, wait to save my leg. I’ve been through many surgeries in my life until the age of 12. One of the very first suggestions from doctors was amputate the leg and get a prosthetic.

What is wrong with the prosthetic leg you currently have?

The safety mechanism of locking my knee when I’m walking is not working. It’s going to keep bending and probably cause me to fall. That’s why I stopped running. It’s not safe to run. The parts are also wearing out, the springs are more than five years old and the rubber is wearing out. Usually the lifetime of a prosthetic leg is about five years.

What kind of response have you received from the public since you launched this campaign?

I launched this Monday night, so it’s not too long ago and the launch was overwhelming. As soon as I put the campaign up, about three minutes since I posted the link on Facebook, a friend of mine I worked with a year ago sent me $100. I teared. Wow. I did not expect anything like that. It touches me so much to see how people respond to something like this even though I’m not a Canadian citizen. People don’t see what you are. They see who you are.

To donate to Mohan’s cause, visit

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