Katie O’Halloran, 22, was born with femur fibula ulna syndrome, which left her without arms and with a short, deformed right leg.
But by using her left leg to write and type — she even uses it to apply her make-up — she has proved something of an academic star and recently completed a master’s degree in public law at NUI Galway.
Having mastered standing, and then walking, with a prosthetic leg, and finally dispensing with her wheelchair, Katie is determined to complete her road to independence by getting Bebionic prosthetic arms.
With the help of family, friends, and a widespread team of supporters, Katie is well on her way to gathering the €300,000 cost of her new arms.
She has recently been trialling the use of a male bionic arm and hand, but hopes a female version will become available this year.
“There are sensors in the hands and they pick up the twitches coming from your brain,” says Katie. “You have to concentrate really hard to get them to function as you want — you certainly can’t multitask while trying to get them to do what you want.
“It would make a very big difference to me to be able to open a door or simple things like that — things that most people take for granted, but I’ve never been able to do them.
“I have been working with the male hand, but it will probably be next October before the female version becomes available. It would mean that I would be much more independent and do things like carry bags and write or type which I have been doing with my leg up to now.”
Heaping praise on fundraisers helping Katie to reach her €300,000 goal, she says: “I have had fantastic support from lots of people and I am very grateful to them all.”
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