Tommy has buzz back!

Clever DIY dad Adam came to the res­cue…

Chat - - Contents - By Katie Den­gel, 29, from Barns­ley

As the fuzzy black-and­white pic­ture came into fo­cus, my heart skipped. It was March 2014, and me and my hubby Adam, 29, couldn’t wait to see our grow­ing baby. ‘Hey there,’ I whis­pered. In that mo­ment, ev­ery­thing seemed per­fect.

But as the sono­g­ra­pher zoomed in on our baby’s right arm, she stopped.

At 12 weeks, we should’ve been able to see a hand, but we couldn’t…

‘Your baby is miss­ing a hand and will likely have a short fore­arm, too,’ she told us.

She said it was am­ni­otic band syn­drome (ABS).

ABS is where stray bands of tis­sue wrap around the limbs of an un­born baby, cut off blood flow and stop it grow­ing.

‘We don’t know why this hap­pens...’ she trailed off. My heart broke. But it didn’t change how I felt one bit.

No mat­ter what, my baby would be per­fect – whether he had all his 10 fin­gers or not.

Back home, I re­searched ABS and found a sup­port group on Face­book.

Other mums had posted pics of their lit­tle ones with­out arms or legs and they were hav­ing fun, liv­ing nor­mal lives. It gave me hope. And when Tommy ar­rived in Au­gust 2014, weigh­ing 6lb, I was over­joyed.

His right arm ended in a stump just below his el­bow.

‘But, other than that, he’s healthy,’ the doc­tor told us.

As he grew up, he’d learn to adapt and use a pros­thetic.

He’d need ex­tra love and care – we had that in buck­ets!

At 6 months old, Tommy started crawl­ing.

‘Come to Mummy,’ I’d coo to

I saw other lit­tle ones hav­ing fun, liv­ing nor­mal lives

him proudly and he’d smile and get re­ally low to the ground.

Then he’d pull him­self along, al­most like an army crawl. My lit­tle sol­dier! At the same time, he was given an NHS pros­thetic.

But it was too bulky and he’d throw a tantrum when we strapped it on him.

Be­sides, he ac­tu­ally seemed to get along fine with­out it.

Then, as Tommy started tod­dling, he learned to rely on his left hand.

And he was still strug­gling with his pros­thetic.

‘It looks like a doll’s arm,’ Adam said. It hung use­lessly.

So we went on­line to look for a prac­ti­cal al­ter­na­tive. And Adam found some­thing. ‘Look at this!’ he cried. On his lap­top screen was a group of smil­ing kids with colour­ful pros­thetic arms.

Scoop­ing up Tommy, he showed him the bright hands.

‘Buzz Lightyear!’ Tommy cried, look­ing at a green, pur­ple and white arm.

It was just like his favourite char­ac­ter from Toy Story.

We found out that the arms were made by a char­ity called Team Un­lim­bited.

And they also re­leased spe­cial in­struc­tions so that peo­ple could make the pros­thet­ics for them­selves.

Now all we’d need was to get ourselves a 3D printer…

‘We could make one for Tommy,’ Adam beamed.

Al­though it sounded re­ally ex­pen­sive, we knew that the look on Tommy’s face would be price­less! ‘Let’s try,’ I agreed. So, in Fe­bru­ary last year, we bought a 3D printer on­line for £800. Af­ter that, we down­loaded the in­struc­tions and Adam set to work. I have to say, it did look com­pli­cated. Adam had to en­ter the cor­rect printer set­tings and tem­plate, then load the plas­tic. Next, there were seven com­po­nents that would need to be made. Over the next three days, the printer chugged away. Ev­ery so of­ten, Adam would check up on things, or load the next part. Even­tu­ally, Tommy’s new arm was ready. And it was in green, pur­ple and white, of course! As Adam strapped it on, Tommy, now 3 years old, broke into the big­gest smile. ‘Look, I’m Buzz Lightyear!’ he beamed. Tommy loved his lighter, brighter new arm. Sud­denly he was do­ing things that he’d never been able to do be­fore. Just by bend­ing his arm, the plas­tic hand would grip what­ever Tommy wanted.

But, the first thing Tommy did was shake his dad’s hand.

As I watched the two of them, happy tears fell.

Tommy be­came a dif­fer­ent boy af­ter that.

He was con­fi­dent and buzzing around, not let­ting any­thing stop him.

Adam has now made Tommy another six arms.

Tommy just loves show­ing them off to his mates.

But the Buzz Lightyear arm is still his favourite.

We’ve had to re­place it once af­ter he wore it out!

Now Adam wants to make pros­thetic arms for other kids, so that they can be as happy and ac­tive as Tommy. He’s our lit­tle su­per­star. And we love him to in­fin­ity and be­yond!

Adam says, ‘The Buzz Lightyear arm to­tally changed Tommy’s life, so now I want to adapt the de­signs and make spe­cial arms for other kids. That’s why we set up Limbbo – if I can help other chil­dren in the same way, then it’ll be a job well done.’

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