F1 team grants teenager hand wish

Matthew James explains how the new bionic hand works

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A Formula One fan has had his wish of a new bionic hand fulfilled after a plucky letter to boss of the Mercedes GP Petronas team, Ross Brawn.

Matthew James, a 14-year-old from Wokingham in Berkshire, was born without a left hand.

He was fitted with a bionic version which he described as "like a claw".

His dream was for a more sophisticated device, but they cost tens of thousands of pounds and are not always available on the NHS.

Matthew had his eye on an i-Limb Pulse from Touch Bionics, a firm in Scotland. His family had raised some money, but nowhere near the £30,000 needed.

He decided to ask Ross Brawn for help after the F1 boss visited Reading School.

In a letter, Matthew offered to have his hand sponsored by Mercedes in exchange for help.

Start Quote

Unfortunately there's one downside to it, I'm having to do more chores”

End Quote Matthew James

Matthew was invited for a tour round the Mercedes factory, while a member of the F1 team got in touch with Touch Bionics.

The two organisations agreed to share technology which is used in both the cars and the bionic arm. As part of the deal, the £25,000 fee to fit the hand and train Matthew to use it was waived. Mercedes is helping to fund-raise the rest.

Matthew said his old hand was "a simple open and close mechanism, like a claw" while the new one "has five individual motors in each finger and therefore each finger can move individually".

The arm was fitted on Friday and he is still getting used to it, but can already open jars and carry cups of tea.

"Unfortunately there's one downside to it, I'm having to do more chores," he said.

Ross Brawn said: "Matthew's letter to the team was very touching.

"Meeting Matthew, and hearing first hand how the new device would improve his quality of life, was a pleasure and I am delighted that our initial contact has now led to such a positive conclusion."

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