Nine-year-old Lillie from Warrington is one of the first children in the UK to receive a new type of prosthetic hand, thanks to an innovative project - and it’s proven to be an instant hit on the hockey field!
Lillie, who lives with her mum, dad, brother and younger sister, was born with a below elbow limb difference meaning that her right hand did not develop before birth. While she has never let that hold her back, there are certain tasks and activities she can find more challenging.
She has now received a ground-breaking Koalaa soft prosthetic through an initiative called Project Limitless. The result of a collaboration between charity Douglas Bader Foundation and quadruple amputee and adventurer Alex Lewis, the project aims to provide every child in the UK who needs one with a free prosthetic arm.
Thanks to its supporters, enough money has already been raised to help more than 350 children, including babies as young as 2, and has also enabled the project to be extended to help all those under the age of 18.
Becki Hutchinson, Lillie’s mum, commented: “Being able to skip has been a big thing for Lillie and she amazed us with how well she could do it! She’s also been using her Koalaa to hold the paper still when she’s been painting and crafting.
“But the biggest thing has been playing hockey. Before getting her Koalaa, Lillie found it hard to control a hockey stick and she was getting really frustrated. She now has no problems and proudly takes her Koalaa into school with her every week, especially since she got a special Roblox-inspired cover.”
Becki continued: “Lillie has always been independent and this has given her even more opportunities to try new things and go wherever her interests may take her. We’re so thankful to the project and I grow more and more proud of her every single day.”
Becki was shocked to find out at her 15-week scan that Lillie’s hand had not developed. At the time she was devastated and worried ‘what won’t my baby be able to do?’. She came across a charity called Reach, where she went on to connect with other parents in a similar situation and to hear their stories. It was at one of the charity’s family meet ups that she first came across Project Limitless.
Becki explains: “It was a shock when I first found out about Lillie’s hand but if I knew then what I know now, then things would have been very different. Nothing fazes Lillie. She always works out her own way of doing things and I don’t believe there’s anything she can’t do if she sets her mind to it – there really are no limits.
“She may currently be the only child with a limb difference at her school, but other children have been asking their parents to get them a Koalaa too, because they think it’s so cool. And that’s just amazing.”
Lillie has been given a Koalaa soft prosthetic, which unlike traditional prosthetics is more like clothing, in that it’s lightweight and made from material, making it perfect for an active child. The sleeve is worn and can then be fitted with a range of different tool attachments, which can be used for different tasks, including bike riding and painting, playing an instrument, using a racket and holding cutlery or drinks.
To find out more or to register a child for support through Project Limitless, visit www.yourkoalaa.com/projectlimitless