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Eleven-Year-Old ‘Star Wars’ Fan Gets R2-D2 Bionic Arm, With Help from Luke Skywalker

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Tallahassee, Florida’s Isabella Tadlock had unusual dreams for an 11-year-old. Not a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. Not qualifying for the Olympics. Not to go to college or to space like the characters of Star Wars that she loves so much. Well, maybe all those things. But first things first. Isabella dreamt of picking things up with her fingers. With some help from a Hollywood star and a British bionics company, that dream has become a reality.

Isabella’s dream might seem small. It’s a lot bigger, though, for someone born with a “nub” at the end of her left arm, and no fingers on her right hand. 

In July 2019, Isabella saw a video of a young boy with a bionic arm. Suddenly, the dreams of manual dexterity seemed more real. A bionic arm and hand could make it possible. The first step to getting there was fundraising. Isabella’s family set up an online fundraiser — called Isabella’s Second Hand Friends — on mightycause.com. Here’s what Isabella said about her goal to have a bionic arm:

I have the chance to have two hands!!! I was born without fingers on my right hand. My left arm was shorter than my right and I have a nub on the end. After many surgeries I have 3 fingers and a thumb on my right hand. Thank you Dr. Seitz! AND now Hanger Clinic and Open Bionics are giving me the chance to have a Hero Arm! A NO SURGERY arm!! I am so excited, I will be able to ride my bike, swing on the monkey bars (yes girl!), create in the kitchen and be like my friends.

With A Helping Hand From Open Bionics

Open Bionics, based in Bristol, UK, is a bionics company that develops assistive devices to enhance the human body. Not traditional prosthetics with hooks or grippers. Their mission is “to make beautiful bionic limbs more accessible.” That “Hero Arm” that Isabella mentioned is a medically-certified, 3D-printed bionic arm with all the required functions… and beauty besides. Each Hero Arm comes with swappable covers styled after heroes, stars, movies, and games like Star Wars’ BB-8, Marvel’s Iron Man, Disney’s Frozen and Dues Ex.  

There was never any doubt what theme Isabella would choose. This Star Wars fan chose an R2-D2-themed Star Wars hero arm. 

And A Twitter Boost From An Inter-Galactic Hero

Isabella’s online fundraising had a goal of $10,000 and has raised $13,908 from 77 people. It got a big boost from a big Star Wars star — no less a star than Mark Hammill, Luke Skywalker himself. Isabella’s nanny Ashley tweeted at Hammill and Open Bionics about the company’s partnership with Star Wars. Hamill gave it a shout-out to followers on Twitter. Open Bionics said they’d make it happen. 

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/openbionics?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@openbionics</a> reaching out to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HELPBELLA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HELPBELLA</a> is the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Thanksgiving?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Thanksgiving</a> gift that will last a lifetime. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheForceIsWithBeautifulBella?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TheForceIsWithBeautifulBella</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9guEQO5GTV”>https://t.co/9guEQO5GTV</a> <a href=”https://t.co/E0KQdXWIeK”>pic.twitter.com/E0KQdXWIeK</a></p>&mdash; Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) <a href=”https://twitter.com/HamillHimself/status/1199400088361025536?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 26, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

By February 2020, Isabella had her Star Wars R2-D2-themed bionic arm. And Isabella had an online video conversation with Skywalker himself, set up by Open Bionics. Check out this video of the conversation between Hammill and Isabella.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/9TJObn8MCaQ” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

As the video shows, Isabella has accomplished her dream of picking things up with her fingers, with some help from Open Bionics and Luke Skywalker himself. There’s no limit to what dreams she’ll accomplish next.

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