An eight-year-old aspiring footballer who was born without a left hand is set to receive a state-of-the art robotic hand in the colours of his favourite football team.
William Joyner was born without a hand as a result of amniotic band syndrome – where the band wrapped itself round his hand reducing the bloodflow.
This left Reading Football Club mad William, from Paulerspury, Northamptonshire, with only a palm on his left hand.
But a state-of-the art robotic limb, designed by experts at the University of Bedfordshire, works in a way so that he can make it grip through arm movements.
And on Tuesday William tried out the final version for the first time which was made by a 3D printer after trying various prototypes.
His full-time mum Jo, 38, said: “The whole day was really good. We got there and they had the original hand and the new one.
“There were some problems with its thumb so they chopped it off and reattached another one that William could use better.
“He adapted to it so quickly the guys who made it were surprised. He used the thumb in a completely different way to what they expected.
“Now they are going to go away and re-point the thumb so it works better. It’s all about trial and error.”
William should get to go home with his new robotic hand in two weeks – where it will allow him to do things such as write and brush his own hair.
But the footballer hasn’t let his disability restrict him and currently plays on the right wing for a Leicester City affiliated football team a year above him.
Jo said: “He will be able to do extra things with the hand but it is about more than that. It is about giving him confidence.
“Now some people look at him and think ‘poor child’ he’s only got one hand. It is about changing perceptions and make them think he’s just as capable.”
Speaking about the day William said it was “really good” and he hopes that it will “definitely” help him become a professional footballer.
William has had surgery in the past to try and correct his hand and doctors took a piece of bone out of his toe and inserted it into his hand, allowing him to use it as a pincer.
The family planned more operations but decided to stop when William got a serious infection and spent 10 days in hospital.
The University of Bedfordshire are aiming to support William with upgrades over the next 12 years and hope that it will enable him to live like any other child.
The project, funded entirely by the university, has been carried out at the Luton campus by staff members Dr David Jazani and technician Mark Hooper, utilising 3D printers.
Mr Hooper said: “The day went really well. William definitely enjoyed himself.
“There’s just a few tweaks we need to do over the next couple of weeks to the thumb and finger tips and then we’re done.”
Dr Jazani added: “We are at the penultimate stage and the fitting has allowed us to carry out some final adjustments.
“We’ve made it stronger than the original prototype and this should last him well into his teens.”
Amniotic band syndrome occurs when an unborn baby becomes entangled in fibrous string-like amniotic bands in the womb, restricting blood flow and affecting the baby’s development.
The syndrome can cause a number of different birth defects depending on which body part is affected. If a band wraps tightly around a limb – like a left hand in William’s case – the limb can actually be completely amputated.
William lives with his mum and programme manager dad Andy, 38 in Paulerspury, Northamptonshire.
He’s chosen it to be made in blue and white, the colours of his beloved Reading but the university have also made a skin coloured one in case he wants a change.
A spokeswoman for Reading Football Club said: “It is of course very exciting to hear about William’s robotic hand.
“We know William is a huge Reading FC fan and so we’re delighted to hear the university will be creating this using our colours and we can’t wait to see William using it.”