A young Irish boy has become the first person in the country to receive an artificial hand created by 3D printer.
Ten year old Josh McKenna from Co Laois was born with just a stump on his right arm because of a condition known as Amniotic Band Syndrome.
However, now he is the proud owner of a state-of-the-art mechanical hand created using the incredible method of 3D printing.
It all comes thanks to international charity Enabling the Future. They have helped children with missing limbs all around the world, by providing them with mechanical replacements.
Josh’s mum Annette spoke to the Irish Independent. She said she read about the charity helping a young boy in Hawaii last year, and thought perhaps they could help Josh too.
She went to the Enable the Future website and filled out Josh’s details. She explained: “I thought I’d hear nothing more of it. Then I got an email from Stephen Dignam who said I’ve been matched with you and it just snowballed from there.”
Stephen Dignam is a lecturer at the Institute of Technology Tallaght in Dublin. He works for the charity part time along with engineer Robert O’Connor. They were passed Josh’s application to see if there was anything they could do to help.
Dignam said: “I’m a designer and I have a 3D printer and when I signed up to the charity and I gave them my details and my capabilities. They matched me up with Josh and Annette.
“I was sent photographs detailing Josh’s hand and from there we decided what kind of model we would use. Then I got in contact after that.
“I took that and I measured it up in 3D software. To be able to help Josh, well, the feeling was indescribable.”
Annette revealed that Josh is delighted with his new hand. She said: “He was most excited to pick the colours. His original hand was black, yellow and red. This is a more up to date hand. He chose his bike to match. It’s made a difference to his confidence.
“They love it in school. The headmaster was blown away. The first morning he walked into the classroom and gave a wave and said ‘How’re ya lads?”
The new technology of 3D printing has had a major impact on the medical industry in recent years, and the trend is expected to continue.
For more information about Enabling the Future, visit their website at enablingthefuture.org