Woman To Undergo Bionic Hand SurgeryAfter suffering serious neck and shoulder injuries 13 years ago, Nicola Wilding’s right arm became paralysed and in her words ‘useless.’ After nerve transplants and physiotherapy her hand remained emaciated, so Mrs Wilding took inspiration from an Austrian man who asked for his withered hand to be amputated and replaced with a prosthetic one.

Mrs Wilding has been in touch with Austrian surgeon Oskar Aszmann, who has carried out the procedure she is so desperate for on a small number of patients. She hopes to have her hand removed as it just ‘gets in the way’ and leaves her unable to pursue simple tasks such as dressing and cooking. She believes a bionic hand would make her much more capable of achieving normal, everyday tasks.

Mrs Wilding told the BBC: “It [my hand] is dead. It’s not coming back. The damage to the nerves was that severe. It gets in the way. It’s useless. I‘ve sat on it, I’ve burnt it, I’ve nearly shut it in the door. I wouldn’t miss it.

“If I could have a hand that would assist me for something as simple as just carrying a bag, helping me butter toast or tying shoelaces, it would make my life a little easier. It’s the everyday things. Taking my clothes off, having a shower. I have to have meals prepared for me – I can’t peel a potato as much as I’ve tried. I’d probably end up injuring myself.”

Last year a film documented an operation Dr Aszmann carried out on a man who had suffered a serious injury to his hand in a motorbike accident, deeming it useless, much like Mrs Wildings. In the same film there was footage of another man who was the first patient to undergo the procedure. It captured images of him showing off his bionic hand by opening bottles and tying his shoelaces.

Mrs Wilding said, “I saw the clip of Oskar, and I was just filled with hope, because it could be life changing.”

Dr Aszmann said Mrs Wilding was a suitable patient for the operation but warned that there are risks. “These are risky decisions – they are irreversible. Once the extremity is gone it’s gone, you cannot put it back on again,” he said.

“She’s already ready to go. She says she wants to have a functional hand and arm, so I think for her there’s no question in her mind.”

Despite Dr Aszmann explaining the risks involved in the surgery Mrs Wilding is not at all deterred, saying that she is in “excruciating pain” with her hand the way it is. If successful, the prosthesis would be joined to her nerves, allowing her to move it like an ordinary hand. This would allow Mrs Wilding to have a much more normal life.

Mrs Wilding hopes to visit Dr Aszmann in Vienna for an assessment in May. This is where he will figure out whether she qualifies for an elective amputation. Mrs Wilding is also self-funding the surgery and it is not being done through the NHS despite popular belief.

By Hannah Biggs


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