Three-year-old Tommy Dengel was born without his right hand or most of his arm due to amniotic band syndrome, a rare condition where bands of stray tissue cut off blood flow by wrapping around a babies’ limbs. And while he’s tried to use the basic NHS prosthetic, it didn’t work well for him. So poorly, in fact, that a group of his dad’s friends surprised Tommy by making him a mechanical arm thanks to a donation and design plan from the charity Team UnLimbited.
The thing is, once his dad Adam saw the amazing arm his friends made, not to mention his son’s elation upon receiving it, he knew he had to make more. “Tommy was absolutely over the moon with it,” Dengel said. “When I saw the smile on his face I just thought, right this is something I need to do.”
Adam ended up buying a 3D printer and spent hours learning how to use it before taking a stab at making his first mechanical arm. When he finally did, though, he nailed it. Even better, the 3D printed prosthetic limb only cost around £15 (or $20) to produce and required little more than plastic, fishing wire, and elastic bands to function. Which is why, naturally, he made more ⏤ six all told, including one that’s designed to look like Buzz Lightyear’s suit. And thanks to his new mechanical arms, Tommy can now perform tasks that he could not before, like shaking hands and picking things up.