One day in October of 2015, near Nouméa, New CaledoniaIn, a young girl’s life was changed forever.
Instead of hearing the usual laughter and giggles of their sweet little girl Mitsuko, her parents heard the cries of pain and horror. Etienne, her father, found himself faced with something all parents fear – his daughter had just lost all of her fingers on her right hand in a horrible accident after getting it trapped in a machine.
With Misuko’s mother having already been set to travel to Paris for a minor surgery, Etienne brought along Mitsuko and her little brother Erwan as well, in hopes of finding a prosthetic device that would be affordable and available to them.
One of our e-NABLE Community volunteers, Thierry Oquidam, who helps run e-NABLE France writes: “Etienne soon discovered that the medical world did not have many answers in cases like Mitsuko’s. The only devices available to her were expensive, costing thousands of Euros and unpractical in the sense that they would block her wrist movement.
The prosthetic devices that are available to them would take a month or two to have built, which was way too long for the family who had to fly back to their home.”
Etienne had originally reached out to Proteor, a main prosthetics company in France. Their manager, Marielle, realized they would be unable to provide him with a solution for his daughter within the short window of time they had in Paris, so she redirected him to Thierry. Marielle and Thierry had met previously at an event in December, where Thierry had offered to help them set up a large 3D printer which was sitting dormant in a factory, so they could also become involved in providing 3D printed devices to those in need!
Thierry and Ghislain Gauthier, another e-NABLE France volunteer, realized that because of the short timeframe of this family’s visit to Paris, they would be more efficient working together on the creation of a hand for Mitsuko. Thierry and Ghislain arranged to meet with the family on December 31st, 2015 to take photos of Mitsuko’s hand and get the measurements they would need to produce a 3D printed device for her.
They worked simultaneously on this build and each printed half of the parts needed to assemble her hand. By the 6th of January, 2016, they had built a first prototype for her and met the family again for her first fitting.
After watching her use the first hand, the pair decided it needed a few modifications, and once again, worked together to print a second hand, which they presented to her on the 11th of January before her appointment with an occupational therapist to get medical advice on the device before heading back home to New CaledoniaIn.
Thierry shares, “The occupational therapist was very happy with our 3D printed devices. Mitsuko will continue to use the first hand for a few weeks or even months because it is tighter and easier for her to move. Then she will switch to the larger hand when her wrist is stronger and can manipulate it much more easily!”
This is such a wonderful example of how our volunteers work together, not just from afar – but within their own communities.
These amazing volunteers continue to “Enable The Future” of those who need a “helping hand.”
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller.
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