A nine-year-old girl born without a right hand has become one of the first kids in the UK to get a new type of prosthetic – so she can skip and play hockey.
Lillie Hutchinson, who was born with a below elbow limb difference, got her ‘Koalaa arm’ this year, which comes with a series of clips to help her with everyday activities.
Her mum Becki Hutchinson, 40, said she first found out that Lillie’s hand had not developed following a 15-week scan of her womb.
The former nursery nurse said her daughter’s disability had never held her back but said she’d felt “heartbroken” when Lillie first told her, “I want two hands like you” aged three.
She said she had learned about the revolutionary foam prosthetic after joining a local support group, and was overwhelmed by how it had helped Lillie in her daily life.
Becki said: “Being able to skip has been a big thing for Lillie and she amazed us with how well she could do it.
“But the biggest thing has been playing hockey. Before getting her Koalaa [arm], Lillie found it hard to control a hockey stick and she was getting really frustrated.
“She now has no problems and proudly takes her Koalaa [arm] into school with her every week.
Mum of two Becki, from Warrington, Cheshire, said she had been “in tears” when she first found out that Lillie’s hand hadn’t developed during her pregnancy.
She said: “It just really hit me like a train. I couldn’t believe it.
“When you get pregnant and have a baby, you think you’re going to have a perfectly healthy baby, and it was quite shocking because I don’t know anyone with a limb difference.
“I just remembered lying on a heap on my bedroom floor in tears. I was just so worried thinking about all the things that she wouldn’t be able to do.”
But after Lillie was born, Becki said she had soon forgotten about her concerns and focussed on what her “amazing” daughter would be capable of doing in the future.
She said: “When she came out, I remember looking at her hand and thinking ‘it’s so cute – I can’t believe that was what all the fuss was about.’
“From that day onwards, she’s just amazed me every day.”
Becki said she has always tried to tell Lillie that her limb difference is a positive characteristic.
She said: “I’ve always pushed it as a positive thing, saying “Most people have got two hands, but that’s boring.” She calls it her “lucky fin”, like Finding Nemo.
But Becki added there had been times when she was left feeling heartbroken with her daughter’s situation following her interaction with other kids.
She said: “I remember one time, she was at a princess party, and she was dancing in a circle, and I remember this little girl wouldn’t hold her hand.
“That really upset me, but I just kept it together, but when I got home it really hit me.”
Lillie was fitted with a ground-breaking Koalaa soft prosthetic earlier this year, which was produced through an initiative called Project Limitless.
The arm was conceived through a collaboration between charity Douglas Bader Foundation and quadruple amputee and adventurer Alex Lewis.
The project aims to provide every child in the UK who needs one with a free prosthetic arm.
Lillie was presented with the new arm during a support meeting for other kids with limb differences, and her mum said she’s reacted really well to the new technology.
Becki said: “It’s got different attachments that clip onto the end, and the material is much lighter and much softer on the skin.”
“She was having hockey with PE and a couple of the children were saying, “You can’t control your ball, it keeps going in my way” as she was trying to control it with one hand.”
“I said to her, “Lillie, your Koalaa arm would work with this as there an adapter that’s got a loop made of Velcro, where you can insert different foam cylinders into it, and she said, “Yeah, it really works.”
She added: “She’s just really kind and caring. She’s the best big sister to my little two-year-old, Poppy. She’s really quite independent.
“She likes to do things for herself – she always has done since she was tiny – so the Koalaa arm has worked out really well.”
Thanks to its supporters, enough money has already been raised to help more than 350 children, including babies as young as two, to benefit from the Koalaa arm.