Prosthetic
Prosthetic

TINY MIRACLE: Three-year-old Izabella gets a new hand

Izabella Carlson is three, but has only had a left hand for a few weeks. And it is purple.

Izabella was born with only one hand but was recently fitted with a 3D printed hand from charity Free 3D Hands.

Izabella's mother Kate said the family had been in contact with the charity for more than two years waiting for her to be big enough to receive a hand.

"I actually contacted Mat (Bowtell) at Free 3D Hands when she was three weeks old and said 'my daughter's been born without a hand, what can you do?'" Mrs Carlson said.

The reply? 'Ah, she's a little bit young at this stage, when she gets older get in touch'.

She contacted him again when Izabella was two, but that was still too young.

"I contacted him when she was three. Mat said: 'Look, we'll try and do it, but it's going to be the smallest hand we've ever made'.

It did turn out to be the smallest they had made, but it fit perfectly when it arrived seven weeks ago.

"Since receiving her new hand, Izzy can do a whole host of things she couldn't do before," Mrs Carlson said.

She can confidently ride her bike, pick up small items and do simple things like blowing bubbles and help sweep up after dinner.

Izabella Carlson’s 3D printed hand is helping her do the same things as other children her age. Photo: Adam Head
Izabella Carlson’s 3D printed hand is helping her do the same things as other children her age. Photo: Adam Head

 

"We were at a birthday party and all the kids were given a big tube of bubbles and she sat there and held it between her knees and that was fine.

"She said: 'Can I try this with my hands?' It meant she could hold the tube properly like the other kids were. It just gives those opportunities."

Now Mrs Carlson wants to repay Free 3D Hands, run by husband and wife Mat and Yuka Bowtell without pay.

She has nominated it for the Sunsuper Dreams for a Better World competition in the hope it would win the $50,000 prize to further the organisation's work.

"The confidence her new hand has given her is truly heartwarming and we will be forever grateful to Mat and Free 3D Hands for their inspired work," she said.

 

Izabella’s hand. Photo: Adam Head
Izabella’s hand. Photo: Adam Head

 

 

Free 3D Hands has already printed 150 hands and assistive devices (such as fingers, piano adaptors and skipping rope adaptors) and have 45 children on the waiting list.

The current need is for 16 hands, 17 below elbow arms (still in development), 10 fingers and various customised devices.

Winning the $50,000 prize in the Sunsuper Dreams for a Better World competition would enable it to purchase 18 new 3D printers and double production.

Mr Bowtell said their devices were tools to allow "limb difference kids" to try new things.

"It's to enhance their ability," he said.

"We make anything, really, that people would like. Last week we made an attachment for a man who had chopped of his arm in an accident to hold a fishing rod. He sent us a photo of the fish that he caught.

"I don't believe that anyone in the world who needs this sort of technology should have to pay for it.

"As a society, people who are able we have a responsibility to look after people who are less fortunate.

"If I sold them the hand for the $10 the materials cost, then it would be only worth $10. But if I give it away with no expectations it becomes priceless."

 

■ You can vote for Free 3D Hands at dreamsforabetterworld.com.au/vote before 9am, October 14.