Girl Gets Her 'Iron Man' Bionic Arm After Being Born Without a Hand

Published December 23rd, 2019 - 02:01 GMT
Hollie Lownds, 11, was left 'speechless' when she tried on her bionic arm (pictured) for the first time, paid for by an anonymous donor (dailymail)
Hollie Lownds, 11, was left 'speechless' when she tried on her bionic arm (pictured) for the first time, paid for by an anonymous donor (dailymail)
Mr Lownds, 34, said: 'She was a bit teary eyed when she first got it, it was an amazing moment, it's made her complete.

A schoolgirl has had her first ever bionic arm fitted after being born without a right hand. 

Hollie Lownds, 11, was fitted with the 'Iron Man' themed bionic arm, which is worth £5,000, in September.

It will allow her to brush her hair, eat with a knife and fork and ride a bike for the first time, and she is particularly excited to open Christmas presents with two hands.

Hollie's parents were told 20 weeks into the pregnancy that their daughter was missing her right hand because of a growth defect but the cause wasn't clear to doctors.

Since she was born she hasn't had a prosthetic arm and has tried to use the stump of her elbow joint to grasp things and open doors. 

Hollie, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, recalled the moment she received her Hero Arm: 'I was speechless, I had no words. I was so happy and I finally felt complete.

'It's the missing piece of me and now I've finally got it.

'It will mean so much to open my presents this year because when I was younger it was always tough. Getting the wrapping off was always a struggle and my family used to have to make the wrapping a bit loose so I could get it off.

'I'll be able to decorate the tree properly this year too. Christmas is going to be magical.'

Mr Lownds, 34, said: 'She was a bit teary eyed when she first got it, it was an amazing moment, it's made her complete.

'Her new hand completes her and it's just so wonderful to see Hollie come into herself and flourish. 

'It'll give her a lot more independence. From eating a meal with a knife and fork to being able to use a skipping rope or tying her shoe laces, it'll let be able to do so much more. 

'I think in lots of ways the new hand has let her be herself and do little things she couldn't do before such as brushing her teeth, riding a bike and combing her hair.'  

Mr Lownds discovered his daughter would be born without a right hand at the 20 week scan. He said doctors are still uncertain why.

Some babies are born without limbs due to a condition called amniotic band syndrome, where string-like fibres wrap around limbs in the womb, cutting off blood supply. 

Mr Lownds said Hollie was forced to use her left hand for everything, which didn't appear to come naturally to her.

He said: 'As a baby she'd try to open doors with her right hand and do everything with her right hand.

'At school she had to learn how to write and do everything with her left hand from scratch.

'She's very independent. If you offered to help she'd refuse. She's always been extremely stubborn and determined not to let anything hold her back.

'If she had a knife in her left hand she'd put the fork in between her elbow and clench it and stick the fork into whatever she was trying to cut and use her elbow to cut it. 

'If you were playing with Lego she'd try and push the blocks in with her elbow. She couldn't tie laces or skip.' 

Hollie was used to life without a hand but it didn't stop other schoolchildren from saying nasty comments.

Mr Lownds said: 'Everywhere we went people would stare at her hand. Hollie would say it was just something she was born with.

'At primary school there was an incident where she was picked on by a boy because she stood out

'Kids say things without realising it's hurtful.'

Hollie has never used a prosthetic on the NHS. Most existing upper limb prostheses have limited functionality and don't offer much dexterity.

Mr Lownds applied to Open Bionics to get a Hero Arm for Hollie, which is only available privately at the moment. 

The Hero Arm contains electrodes which detect tiny electrical signals from the user's muscles. These signals activate movements in the prosthetic. 

Hollie was finally given the arm in September after an anonymous donor who had a relationship with Open Bionics offered to pay.

The cost of a 3D bionic arm from Open Bionic is not clear and varies according to individual clinics.

A spokeswoman for Open Bionics said they are 'vastly cheaper' than existing advanced alternatives that cost between £20,000 and £60,000 for one hand. 

Mr Lownds said: 'She picked the arm up in September so it hasn't been that long. 

'She's very proud of her hand and all her friends think it's brilliant too.  

'She loves it but because she's never really used her right hand her muscles weren't used to it at first.

'After an hour or so on her arm it can get quite tiring for her because she's not used to using her right hand.

'Being able to skip, ride a bike better, use a knife and fork properly though for her is amazing.' 

Mr Lownds said it's been the making of Hollie and that this Christmas she'll finally be able to unwrap her presents and decorate the tree with her family.

He said: 'It'll make Christmas extra special this year. It's incredible that she's finally got her hand and for the first time ever she'll be able to properly open her presents.

'All she's been able to do previously is use her right elbow down to pin the box down and rip it open with her left hand.' 

Hollie's family are raising money on GoFundMe for the upkeep of her new hand which will need refitting as she grows up.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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