Hands that Heal

By Stephanie Sanchez, Communications Specialist Grades, PreK3-8

Five-year-old Chloe from England is getting a brand-new prosthetic hand thanks to the ingenuity of a Gulliver student and instructor.

Through social media, Academy Engineering faculty member Willy Orozco learned of Chloe's needs. The little girl developed meningococcal septicaemia, an acute infection of the bloodstream and inflammation of the blood vessels, at the age of 3 months. The condition led to severe complications: many joints, including her right wrist, did not form properly and development in her right arm stopped entirely. Chloe also had her left foot amputated and wears a prosthetic leg.

After false hopes of obtaining a prosthetic hand for Chloe from a charity in England, Rachel, Chloe's mother, found hope after speaking to Mr. Orozco and learning about what he and his students could create with some innovation and a 3D printer. Mr. Orozco sought help from student Edward Whipple '23, who has family in England, and started production of Chloe's prosthetic hand.

After receiving Chloe's measurements, Edward and Mr. Orozco chose a model that would be most suitable for her. The hand is designed to grip and close when Chloe bends her elbow, allowing her to grab objects with ease. "I am very proud of how focused Edward was on building this hand for Chloe," Mr. Orozco said. "He put about 40 hours of his own time into this."

Edward plans to travel to England this summer and personally deliver Chloe's new hand to her. "Gulliver has a special way of allowing kids to find their passion," Mr. Orozco said. "Ju

st like some kids excel in arts and sports, giving back is another way they can find what they like to do."

Chloe's prosthesis isn't the first time the engineering department has gone global using their 3D printers to help children. Last summer, Mark Liberman '22 and Mr. Orozco built a prosthetic hand for a 6-year-old boy in Bolivia. Mr. Orozco traveled to Bolivia to personally deliver the hand to the boy. Now, Christopher Korn '24 is in Bolivia delivering a second prosthetic hand for the boy, who is about to outgrow his first. The Korn family plans to take the innovative technology abroad by shipping a 3D printer to Bolivia to help make prosthetic hands more accessible to people in need.