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Friday 29 August 2014

Katie needs to raise just €80k more to get her bionic arms

Published 10/02/2014 | 02:30

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KATIE O'Halloran is like any other 22-year-old. She has recently finished college and is pursuing a career in law.

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The young woman likes to socialise with friends and spend time with her family. But Katie has managed to carve out her independence while overcoming a significant disability.

The young law graduate from Cill Chiarain, Co Galway, was born with Femur-Fibula-Ulna Syndrome, leaving her without arms and with a short, deformed right leg.

While she has never let her disability prevent her from achieving her goals, she now wants to expand her independence with the help of Bebionic prosthetic arms.

"These arms will give me more independence. I'm okay when I'm inside the house, I can do everything for myself, I write and do my make-up with my foot. I can bring myself to the bathroom but when I'm out I'm stuck. I need someone to open doors for me, bring me to the bathroom, carry bags.

"Right now I can manage most things with my foot but as I get older my leg might not be as flexible," she explained.

The new limbs will also allow the young woman expand her social circle.

Born without arms, Katie O’Halloran has had to manage throughout her life with the use of just one foot. The 22-year-old Connemara woman is now fundraising for bionic limbs
Born without arms, Katie O’Halloran has had to manage throughout her life with the use of just one foot. The 22-year-old Connemara woman is now fundraising for bionic limbs
Born without arms, Katie O’Halloran has had to manage throughout her life with the use of just one foot. The 22-year-old Connemara woman is now fundraising for bionic limbs. Andrew Downes

"It does have an impact socially. I have friends but not as many as other people might have. People are sometimes shy or scared to approach me. They wouldn't ask me to go to something because they don't know if I can.

"I'd like to be a normal 22-year-old. Now my social life is like that of an older person, everything has to be planned out in advance. These limbs would allow me to be spontaneous," she said.

Katie added that her new arms will give her a greater opportunity to pursue her dream of being a solicitor.

"I've finished my Masters in Public Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and I've got work experience with a law firm in the city. I start on Tuesday two days a week. I've been given four hours assistance by the HSE for three months.

"I'll be able to do most things myself but with these arms it would make a huge difference," she said.

The Bebionic limbs and upkeep will cost a minimum of €300,000 and Katie and her family are busy fundraising. The local community and businesses in Galway have rallied around and in less than a year Katie has raised €219,000.

"People have been amazing and organised loads of events. The limbs and occupational therapy will cost €300,000 but I also have to think about aftercare and see how it goes from there," she said.

A number of bars and restaurants in Galway, inspired by Katie's story, have now begun fundraising to help her achieve her goal. They set up Katie's League of Champions, which boasts a prize of two tickets to the Champions League Final in Lisbon.

The prize also includes flights, accommodation and €1,000 spending money. Tickets cost €5 and can be purchased at participating venues.

Anyone who wishes to donate to Katie's cause can do so here.

 

Caroline Crawford

Irish Independent

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