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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Mother gets a bionic helping hand after losing her fingers to sepsis

Niamh with her ‘bionic’ hand. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Niamh with her ‘bionic’ hand. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

A bionic hand has allowed a young mother to do everyday tasks for the first time since losing fingers to sepsis.

Niamh Boyle (32) developed the life-threatening infection after the birth of her fourth child last year.

The mother, from Haggardstown, Co Louth, said that after eight months without the use of her hand, it felt "fantastic being able to do tasks again".

After the birth of son Ardan, Ms Boyle woke from a medically induced coma and was told she would have to have all the fingers on her left hand amputated.

She also lost toes on her right foot.

Ms Boyle has spent the last week being trained in how to use the high-tech prosthetic iLimb at a specialist company in Co Galway.

Niamh Boyle with her sons Ardan and Euan (2). Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Niamh Boyle with her sons Ardan and Euan (2). Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

She is now waiting for her bespoke hand to be delivered.

"The training with the prototype hand involved doing every day tasks such as peeling vegetables, picking up and putting down different sized objects at different heights and opening various packets and boxes and bottles," she said.

Ms Boyle is fundraising to cover the estimated €65,000 cost of the iLimb digits hand.

It can even be controlled using an app.

"They are custom made by Touch Bionics in Scotland and this week I visited the Atlantic Prosthetic Orthotic Services in Galway who took the mould for it," she added.

The silicone mould for her bespoke hand has been sent to Scotland to begin the process of making the inside customised socket.

Ms Boyle wants to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of sepsis.

"Now I know that a severe pain in your elbow or knee can be a sign of it. The most common signs are shivering from a fever or cold. Extreme pain or discomfort, pale or discoloured skin," she said.

"My message to everyone is know the symptoms of sepsis. In the UK 44,000 people die from it every year, that is more than die from prostate or breast cancer or Aids."

Ms Boyle and her husband Liam are parents to baby Ardan (8 months) as well as his brothers Euan (2), Rian (5) and Ohran (6).

To donate go to www.gofundme.com/ysvbu-prosthetic-hand-fundraising

Irish Independent

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