Thursday 12 December 2019

Katie hugs family for first time as she gets 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

Caroline Crawford

A young Irish woman who was born with no arms has told of her delight at finally being able to hug her family after returning home with her new bionic limbs.

Katie O'Halloran (23), from Cill Chiarain, Co Galway, was born with Femur Fibula Ulna Syndrome, leaving her without arms and with a short deformed right leg.

Katie O'Halloran
Katie O'Halloran

The young law graduate has overcome her significant disability to carve out an independent life.

She began a major fundraising drive in the hope of reaching the €300,000 needed for Bebionic prosthetic arms.

After an overwhelming response, the Katie Born to Run fund smashed the target, bringing in a massive €438,478.

She travelled to Boston in August with her mother, Catherine, to have the new limbs fitted.

The prosthetics are among the world's most advanced.

After 10 weeks of extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy, Katie returned home two weeks ago with her brand new arms.

One of her most emotional moments was being able to hug her family, who gathered to welcome her home at Shannon airport.

"It's going great. It's been a really long process, getting used to the weight of the arms and how to use them," Katie told the Herald.

"It's really difficult doing small things like opening doors.

"When I first got the arms I could only wear them for half an hour.

"Now I'm able to wear them for three hours.

"The doctors are really happy with my progress, but I think it's a bit slow.

"I'm a perfectionist and I want to get it right."

Katie will spend the next year concentrating on learning how to operate the bionic arms.

"The doctors say the first year is the most crucial if they are going to work fully for me," she said.

"Learning how to use them is a steep learning curve so I'm going to concentrate on that for now. I want to get to the stage where I can wear them for the whole day.

"If I keep this up the doctors say in a year I won't be able to recognise myself."

Katie, who has completed her Masters in Public Law at NUI, Galway, hopes that her new limbs will allow her greater independence and the chance to follow her dream of becoming a solicitor.

hnews@herald.ie

Herald

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