An 11-year-old Star Wars fan and amputee has received an R2-D2 bionic limb and a phone call from Luke Skywalker himself.
Bella Tadlock, from Tallahassee, Florida, in the US, raised almost 14,000 dollars (about £11,000) for her bionic hero arm, created by Bristol company Open Bionics.
Her fundraiser first caught the eye of actor Mark Hamill in November, who retweeted her appeal to his 3.6 million followers.
She became the first person in the United States to receive the advanced multi-grip arm in the style of R2-D2, and was able to show it off during a Skype call to Hamill, where she demonstrated picking up a bottle with her new hand.
Hamill told her: “That is great – that is so fantastic. I’m so happy that you were able to have this happen for you.”
Hamill, who famously got his own bionic hand as Skywalker, then went on to answer lots of fan questions Bella had about the Star Wars universe.
The arm is one of several hero arms manufactured by Open Bionics.
It works by picking up signals from muscles in the residual limb. The company has a royalty-free licensing agreement with Lucasfilm to produce Star Wars cover designs for their bionic arms.
Bella said: “I now have two hands – I am so excited. I will be able to ride my bike, create in the kitchen and be like my friends. To be able to bend my fingers and pick things up is a dream come true.”
Bella was born without fingers on her right hand and with her left arm shorter than her right.
After several operations, she now has three fingers and a thumb on her right hand, but wanted a non-surgical option for her left hand.
Bella’s mum, Pamela Tadlock, said: “This is completely life-changing. Since Isabella was adopted at a few weeks old she has overcome huge obstacles and endured many surgeries.
“Now she has a hand, with no surgery and no pain. I’m so grateful to Open Bionics and Hanger Clinic. Bella likes Luke Skywalker because he lost a hand and was adopted like her.”
In February a military veteran who lost part of his arm in Afghanistan became the first person to receive a 3D-printed “hero arm” on the NHS.
Darren “Daz” Fuller lost the lower part of his right arm in Afghanistan in 2008 during an incident with mortar ammunition.
The new multi-grip arm was funded through the NHS Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel.
Samantha Payne, Open Bionics co-founder, said: “We’re delighted that Bella loves her new R2-D2 arm, and it’s fantastic that Mark Hamill, who is a role model to limb-different children worldwide, is so proactive in letting these kids know that they have the admiration and support of one of the galaxy’s biggest heroes.”
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