A four-year-old has been able to play with her dolls, ride a bike and PINCH her daddy for the first time after getting a new pink hand – created on a 3D PRINTER.
Little Abbi Jillians was born with just a thumb on her left hand which has stopped her doing things other young girls take for granted.
But after receiving the pioneering technology hot off the printer last week, thrilled Abbi went straight for her favourite Barbie doll – and was finally able to brush her hair.
She has also ridden a bike for the first time, has been pinching her dad and is now picking up things and leaving them all over the family home in Tavistock, Devon.
Full-time mum Julie Jillians, 47, who began a campaign to find local access to a 3D printer three months ago, said the new hand has revolutionised her daughter’s life.
She said: “When we got home, the first thing she did was pick up her dolly so she could brush her hair with two hands.
“That is one thing she always wanted to do. She had always loved her dolls and wanted to dress them – but I ended up always having to do it for her.
“It is amazing and wonderful to see her do it herself. She is just like any other girl – Barbie is her favourite.
“This is just so special for Abbi. The smile on my daughter’s face is from ear to ear with a bow round the back.
“I am now finding things all over the house. There are apples upstairs. She’s even managed to pinch her daddy’s bum.
“It’s fantastic. The determination on her face is the sweetest thing, and the fact she’s willing to receive the hand and willing to work at learning to use it.”
The hand works by opening and closing when Abbi bends her wrist up or down. It has a Velcro which straps around her palm and the gauntlet sits on her arm.
Abbi had an operation at 18 months old, taking parts of her toes to give her a bigger palm, and replacing the toes with hip bone.
But Julie said she and husband Jim, 34, would not consider any more operations after seeing the success of her hand.
She said: “It is fantastic and we just can’t stop her using it. She wants to wear it all the time and cannot believe what she has now got.
“She is still building up her strength and getting used to it – and she cannot hold anything too heavy.
“But she is going around picking everything up, from cups to fruit, and playing with all the toys she was never able to before.
“She loves dress-up as well and is finding that a lot easier now she has two hands.
“She was never able to ride a bike before as her hands would slip off the handlebars. But she is now riding it around the house.
“The technology is fantastic. The more she gets to use it, the stronger her wrist and arm will become. There is no way I would consider another operation for her now – this is just way too functional.
“Because her muscles aren’t as developed in that arm, we keep having to take it off her so she doesn’t overdo it. But in time the muscles will get stronger and she’ll be able to use it more and more.
“It’s not going to be a permanent fixture on her arm but it’s there as and when she needs two hands.”
Julie launched an initial appeal for organisations with a 3D printer to help Abbi, and the FabLab at Plymouth College of Art, with the help of IT firm Midwitch, came forward.
The family has since raised nearly #4,000 to get a nearby school kitted out to help other children in Abbi’s position.
Linking up with Enabling the Future, a website which provides the software and patterns to print the hands, the equipment could help children across the country.
“The fundraising means we can buy a package for a school, so a 3D printer and cartridges so the school can sign up to Enable and print a limb.
Abbi, who is in reception class at school, said of her new hand: “I love wearing it so much. I want to wear it forever and ever.”