Haitian orphan with no fingers given a hand by British engineer and 3D-printer

12-year-old boy can now play catch after remarkable prosthetic is created

Los Angeles

Thanks to a British-born software engineer, a South African carpenter and a remarkable prosthetic they created together using 3D printing technology, a 12-year-old Haitian orphan born without fingers can now play catch.

Stevenson Joseph was abandoned at the age of three and brought up at the Little Children of Jesus Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. In 2010, he arrived at the city’s Bernard Mevs hospital after a catastrophic earthquake, which killed more than 100,000 people. The hospital’s orthopaedic team was working to fit prosthetic limbs on amputees.

But Stevenson was different: he had been handicapped from birth. Doctors said there was little they could do for him in Haiti, where few disabled people can find proper care.

Thomas Iwalla, an orthopaedic technician at the hospital, said: “Some congenital conditions, like Stevenson’s, are pretty hard to tackle. Not even surgery could repair his missing fingers.”

Last year the boy’s luck changed when he met John Marshall, a British software engineer based in California, who had travelled to Haiti with his wife, Lisa, on a mission trip for the Christian development charity Food for the Poor.

“Stevenson is handicapped in a small way, in a way that’s not as bad as some of the other children. Yet his hands are holding him back,” Mr Marshall said. “He can do so much more. He has the potential.”

When he returned home to California, Mr Marshall came across an article about Richard van As, a South African carpenter who had lost some of his fingers in a sawing accident in 2011. Mr van As had built himself a plastic prosthetic using a 3D printer, which he named “Robohand”.

Stevenson Joseph with John Marshall (Food For The Poor) Stevenson Joseph with John Marshall (Food For The Poor)
After making contact, the two men worked together to create a Robohand for Stevenson, which was shipped to Haiti and fitted by Mr Iwalla’s team last month.

Staff at the orphanage for disabled children say the prosthesis has enabled the 12-year-old to take part in previously impossible activities such as playing catch. Thanks to his new hand he may even go on to be able to write.

3D printing has already been used to build clothing, cars, guns and musical instruments, and Stevenson is one of many children to have benefited from Mr van As’s invention: the first recipient of a Robohand was a five-year-old South African boy, Liam Dippenaar, who had been born without fingers on his right hand. Printing each prosthetic costs only around £180.

Last year, in Southern Sudan, a 16-year-old refugee named Daniel, who had lost both his arms in an explosion, was fitted with a 3D-printed prosthetic limb that allowed him to feed himself for the first time in two years. The organisers of “Project Daniel”  hope to bring the Robohand to as many as 50,000 amputees affected by wars in Africa.

Stevenson told Reuters that his new hand, which is articulated by movements in his wrist, is “great”.

He explained: “Now I can take a balloon with it. I can score at basketball. I can hold a TV remote and push my friends on their wheelchairs. I can hold a water bottle, a bag. I like it a lot.”

Mr Iwalla said, “Some patients care more about cosmetics. But for Stevenson function is the most important criteria. That’s what is in his mind. His robot hand makes him happy, makes us happy.”

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas