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    Posted December 17, 2014 by
    cynthiafalar
    Location
    Vero Beach, Florida
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

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    Holiday Wish - The Gift of a Limb

     
    The story of Alex Pring, a 6 year old Central Florida boy, who received a 3-D printed hand and arm, prompted a friend to call. Her words were full of hope.

    She had just seen the news. A light-weight limb had been created with a 3-D printer. The fact it cost very little to produce was revolutionary. It generated hope for individuals with limb differences.

    I thanked my friend, Trudie, for sharing. She detected the lack of sincerity in my voice. However, she pressed on, “Alex was able to give his Mom a proper hug!” I defensively responded, “Wyatt is a great hugger!”

    My emotions surprised me. I had made peace with my son’s limb difference. He was adaptive and had a strong level of self-acceptance. Why did he need a robot arm?
    Selfishly, I did not want to re-open the wound my heart had endured. It was just 11 years earlier that our son, Wyatt, had lost his right forearm and hand to amputation. Amniotic banding had robbed our child of having 2 perfect limbs.

    After a long pause, Trudie said, “Will you please promise me that you will at least show Wyatt the video link?” I managed a weak, “yes,” and hung up.

    January 16, 2003 was possibly the darkest day of my life. The sight of our son, Wyatt’s, black and lifeless limb was incomprehensible. Just the week before doctors had tried to restore blood flow. Amputation was not an option – it was essential. Doctors feared further infection and loss of our 3 pound baby’s life.

    That cold and windy Thursday was more than I could bear. As they began to roll Wyatt into surgery, the doctor paused, “Mrs. Falardeau, we will do everything we can to save his elbow.” The words stung my heart. I wanted to scream. Instead, I collapsed into my husband’s arms. Later that day I was admitted to a neighboring hospital for fever, infection, and exhaustion. Part of me died. A hope for a “normal life” also withered away.

    11 years later - I would fully appreciate the doctors’ efforts.

    I mourned that limb for years. In time I accepted our son’s difference.

    Keeping my promise to Trudie, I showed our son, Wyatt, the video clip. Paralyzed by my own emotions - I froze. What was I afraid of? For years family and friends had prayed for a hand and an arm for our son. Shouldn’t I be celebrating?

    Wyatt was riveted. He yelled, “Mom! Dad! I want one of these robot arms! That is super cool! How do I get one? I could ride a bike! I might even be able to paddle a kayak!”

    Suddenly, I realized my fears were selfish. I needed to find a way to allow Wyatt a chance to make his own decision.

    I quickly learned that the volunteer driven non-profit, E-Nabling the Future, was sharing design plans and resources - . http://enablingthefuture.org/about/
    The two original volunteers started a world-wide movement. The mission of E-Nabling is to bring volunteers together to create, innovate, re-design and give a “helping hand” to those that need it.

    We became connected with a team of students at the University of Central Florida. They asked for additional information. Quickly, we are on a short waiting list.
    You might think we are anxious. Honestly, the idea that Wyatt could have a “superhero” limb fills us with excitement.

    This story is really just starting. We are grateful for the leaders of the movement.

    The anticipation of a “robot arm” has healed my heart. It has given our son hope.

    We look forward to sharing Wyatt’s journey to gain his 3-D printed limb.

    This is what we know: There is hope. The faith and anticipation means one thing, anything is possible, even the gift of a limb.

    The attached videos and photos were sent to E-Nable to begin the process.


    Additional links:
    http://www.today.com/health/6-year-old-alex-3-d-printing-means-new-arm-1D79972644
    http://enablingthefuture.org/
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/ucf-students-design-printed-bionic-arm-boy-24721248
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