Tommy Dengel was born without his right hand. Now he has several of them, printed by his father Adam on 3D printer in his bedroom. With these DIY hands, the three-year-old boy can pick things up, shake hands and even “fist bump” his dad.
Amniotic band syndrome caused Tommy to be born with a short forearm and missing his hand. This is a rare medical condition where stray bands of tissue wrap around the limbs of an unborn baby, cut off blood flow.
NHS provided the basic prosthetic, but Mr Dengel wasn’t satisfied with it and started looking for alternatives. He found Team UnLimbited – a charity organization providing free designs, prints and builds of 3D printed hands and arms for children. They helped Adam to build the first mechanical arm for his child.
“Tommy was absolutely over the moon with it,” Mr Dengel said. “When I saw the smile on his face I just thought, right this is something I need to do.”
Later Adam bought a 3D printer and set it to work in his house in Barnsley, designing and making new hands for Tommy. One of the boy’s favorite arms is the Buzz Lightyear one – Tommy used it so often that it eventually broke.
Each arm costs about £15 to make and consists of plastic parts assembled with fishing wire and orthodontic elastic bands. It is strapped on to Tommy’s limb with Velcro and functions by Tommy’s upper hand moves.
Mr Dengel, who has so far made six arms, is planning to set up his own charity along with his wife Katie to help other children with limb differences.