A heroic British Army veteran who lost part of his right arm in Afghanistan has become the first person in the UK to receive a 3D-printed arm on the NHS.
Darren ‘Daz’ Fuller lost the lower part of his arm during a tour of Afghanistan back in 2008. The blast was caused by mortar ammunition.
‘Daz’ joined the Parachute Regiment in 1994 and served for over 20 years in the elite fighting force. He now lives in Colchester with his wife and four-year-old daughter.
He works as an outreach officer for the charity ‘Blesma’ that helps veterans who have lost a limb.
Daz told Forces.net:
“To be the first veteran to get [a Hero Arm] is fantastic, but it leads on to me being hopefully the first of many.
“The first few weeks have been a voyage of discovery.
‘Daz’ with his four-year-old daughter
“There are so many things I’m doing two-handed compared to before and so many things I’m still discovering.
“Doing things together as a family that may not have been possible or a lot harder before has been great.
“I can also now remember the last time I ate with a knife and fork as it was yesterday.”
The new high-tech multi-grip arm was paid for via the NHS Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel.
The arm has been designed and engineered by a Bristol-based company called ‘Open Bionics’, and it works by picking up small electric signals which are sent from muscles which are in the residual limb.
When Daz puts on the arm and flexes his muscles just below the elbow, individual sensors detect the body’s electric signals and turn these signals into hand movements.
Open Bionics is working with the NHS on a clinical trial which could see the health organisation offering the limbs more widely.
The arm used by Daz is currently only available to people through private clinics which are located in the US, UK and Europe.
Open Bionics co-founder Samantha Payne said:
“We very much hope the NHS sees how helpful these devices are and begin offering them to more amputees.
“The Hero Arm is made in the UK and is currently covered by French and Irish national healthcare systems, but not England’s.
“We have a wait-list of amputees who cannot afford private healthcare waiting for the device to be available via the NHS and we’re excited to supply them with a Hero Arm in the future.”