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Danny's Story

Danny Florence lost his right arm and both legs to Meningitis and Septicaemia when he was just five years old. Nothing could stop Danny from getting around with his chair and prosthetic legs, but he has never had the use of his right arm or hand.

Until now.

Foresight portfolio company, Open Bionics, manufactures the world’s first clinically approved 3D-printed bionic arm. With a mission to turn disabilities into superpowers, the Bristol-based team has engineered a product at a fraction of the cost of a standard prosthetic arm, which is both more durable and more flexible.

Just over a year ago, Danny’s life changed once again with the arrival of his baby boy, Joshua. That was the trigger for Danny and his fiancé Danielle to start a funding page to finance a Hero Arm. With their fundraising and the support of a grant, the Open Bionics team was able to manufacture his Hero Arm for fitting around Joshua’s first birthday in December 2019.

The very first thing Danny did with his arm was to  write his son’s name for the first time The Hero Arm has been a “game changer” and Danny is thrilled that regular father son stuff like playing crazy golf is no longer inconceivable, although at this point, he’s mostly helping Danielle with nappy changing duties!

Foresight invested into Open Bionics at the start of 2019 through the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund. This fund, a unique collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, is dedicated to investing into early-stage, disruptive technologies, capturing the essence of a ‘smarter future’.

Watch Danny’s story in full below.

Click here to read the video transcript

Danny 

I was 5 years old, I was the type of kid that was always out, always on my bike...didn't have stabilisers from the age of 4, nothing, so it was really strange to come in and be really complaining about this ankle. Went to bed, and that's the last I remember. It turned out I had meningitis and septicemia, and they put me in an induced coma for 8 weeks, and the next thing I knew was that I woke up without them.

I got prosthetic legs around about, 6 months after I woke up, so they try to get you into it, but it took be about a year and a half to learn walking and I was at the hospital daily, doing physiotherapy for that.

This bionic arm is incredible because it allows me to move it with only 2 muscles in my arm, and it's the country's only medically approved bionic arm. It works by detecting muscle movements in my arm.

I need the arm so I can perform a lot of tasks that I've been unable to do for 21 years, but ultimately my aim for me to get the arm was for my son, so that I could do a lot more with him, and it's also helped with my mental state.

Straight away the first thing I noticed, even beyond with my son, was my confidence was so much better. I would just walk about with it, or drive about with it in my chair and just be so much happier in myself.

While I've been learning to use the hand I've been using Joshua's toys. I find using things like his building blocks, his stacking cups really useful. I can't write at all normally, and it's not from a physical inability, it just causes a lot of pain. Whereas the very first thing I did when I got the hand that was of actual substance, was write Joshua's name, and I wrote his whole name on paper. I'm going to be able to do so much more with him growing up. I'm going to be able to.....we can go and play crazy golf. Could ever have done that before. Never. It's going to change everything.

I heard about Open Bionics a few years ago and I thought "I'd really like that one day", but I decided that it wasn't within reach. we then had Joshua and it became very evident there was a lot he was going to miss out on, and I was going to miss out on with him, and we started a GoFundMe page, and people were very, very, generous. We got almost halfway there, and Open bionics contacted us and they were.....they gave us the incredible news that Max & Morters want to sponsor you, and as a result we got the hand and they've been absolutely incredible every step of the way.

Foresight approached me because they'd seen that I'd been given the hand, and I was very keen to work with them because I wanted to get the story across of how this is going to help other people going forward.

I think long term my ambition is help Open Bionics, not only develop this further, but also help them if I can make this more available to everybody else, because it's helping me now, but I know so many more people that it will help.

So much money is spent on things that don't matter, whereas this matters. People's lives matter.