DONNA, Texas – A group of local students have used their creativity to build a prosthetic hand for a fellow classmate that was born without a right hand.
“I feel happy and excited about this new prosthetic hand,” said Nathaniel De Leon, the hand recipient.
Nathaniel De Leon, a 7th-grade student at Veteran’s Middle School was born without a right hand. He tells us he is excited to start doing things he couldn’t do before this special gift.
“I grab a pencil, open the refrigerator, grab a cup of water,” said De Leon.
The idea of building a prosthetic hand for De Leon came to light when his teachers and his friend Rey Vela became curious about using a tool in their classroom to make the hand.
“The process to make it was with a 3D printer,” said Rey Vela, a 7th grade student.
A 3D printer that allowed them to design and print out the perfect hand for De Leon in less than two months.
“We worked on it, worked on it, worked on it, did a lot of modifications, changed the spool, changed a lot of things of it,” said Vela.
Vela shares a few bumps the group experienced while trying to make this project come to light.
“The files put them into the printer, started to print out but sometimes either they just messed up leaving a big spool at the top of the hand or maybe sometimes it hit it and messed up. Other times it just didn’t want to stick on,” said Vela.
Vela says although there were some frustrating moments in the process his friend and his parents’ smiles were worth it.
“I cried, I cried a lot,” said De Leon’s father
With a shaky voice, De Leon’s dad tells us he cried a lot the day he saw his son walking into their home with a right hand.
“He always wanted his hand,” continued De Leon’s father.
He added that it’s been Nathaniel’s lifelong dream to have a second hand.
“I actually felt nervous and excited because they were going to build a hand,” said De Leon.
De Leon says he is excited to now be able to participate in outdoor activities like Archery and fishing with his family.
Although their teacher is proud of the student’s work he doesn’t know how long the hand will last and has set up a GoFundMe page for a professional prosthetic hand to be made.