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Irish schoolboy with rare birth defect amazed by his new 3D printed hand

'They love it in school. The headmaster was blown away'

Published 27/07/2015

Josh McKenna pictured with a hand which was 3D printed. Photo: The Anton Savage Show
Josh McKenna pictured with a hand which was 3D printed. Photo: The Anton Savage Show

A ten-year-old Irish boy, born with a stump on his right arm due to Amniotic Band Syndrome, has been gifted a 3D printed hand which has provided him with new functionality and boosted his confidence.

Josh McKenna, from Co Laois is now Ireland’s first recipient of a hand created in a 3D printer.

Last year, Josh’s mum Annette came across international charity Enable The Future which provides  £D mechanical hands to children who need them.

After filling in Josh’s details, Annette was linked to Stephen Dignam, a lecturer in IT Tallaght and engineer Robert O’Connor who had offered their services to the charity.

“Around last October I was reading a story about a little boy in Hawaii who had a hand very much the same as Josh,” said Annette speaking to The Anton Savage Show

“The article was about this child’s reaction to getting a new hand and I had watched a YouTube video too.

“At the end of the article it mentioned the charity Enable the Future so I filled out Josh’s details. 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,” she said.

Designer Stephen Dignam soon began work on creating Josh’s mechanical hand based on measurements and photos sent by Annette.

“I’m a designer and I have a 3-D 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.

Josh McKenna pictured with his new hand which was 3D printed. Photo: The Anton Savage Show
Josh McKenna pictured with his new hand which was 3D printed. Photo: The Anton Savage Show

“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,” said Stephen.

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Josh’s mum Annette revealed that the hand has give the ten-year-old a boost of confidence and is loved by everyone in Josh’s school in Co. Laois.

“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,” said Annette.

“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?’

Designer Stephen revealed that although the hand has been seen as a tool for children, he is getting more requests from adults who fit the criteria.

“Adults are looking and seeing the capabilities. I’m working on one now for a 52 year old in Manchester.

“To be able to help Josh... well the feeling was indescribable,” he said.

Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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