Bramley boy bullied for limb deficiency fitted with dream bionic arm as confidence 'booms'

A Leeds boy will achieve his dream of being able to cast his own fishing rod with his dad after being fitted with an incredible bionic 'Iron Man' arm thanks to a huge donation.

By Daniel Sheridan
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 4:45 am

Billy Gregson, from Bramley, was born with an upper limb congenital deficiency, with his right arm shorter than his left with limited movement.

Courageous Billy has grown up hoping that his arm would grow so he could "be like his friends" - but it never stopped him pursuing his hobbies of fishing and clay pigeon shooting with his dad Mark, 54.

While researching potential options which could help her son, Billy's mum Donna, 49, came across OpenBionics 'hero arm'.

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Billy Gregson before and after the arm fitting cc James Hardisty/JPI

The new bionic arm uses sensors within the casing to allow the recipient to respond to movements and are designed to have all of the same functions as a usual pair of arms.

However, the arms cost more than £10,000 - so Donna started to do fundraising in West Leeds and raised more than £1,000 towards the total on GoFundMe.

Billy - who has three siblings - visited OpenBionics in Bristol to start looking at fittings and designs and to see if he was eligible.

To the family's astonishment, an anonymous £10,000 donor has now gifted Billy the chance at a new life.

Billy being fitted with his Hero Arm cc Donna Gregson

At the end of November, Billy was fitted with his new arm and has amazed his schoolfriends and family with how quickly he has adapted.

Speaking to the YEP, delighted Donna said Billy's confidence had "boomed" since the fitting.

He has even been able to start using both a knife and a fork at the same time for the first time in his entire life.

"He wears it for school everyday", Donna said.

Billy Gregson cc James Hardisty/JPI

"His face when he received it was a picture.

"He was over the moon.

"He said it's like Christmas.

"It was all he asked for."

Billy being fitted with his Hero Arm cc Donna Gregson

A congenital limb defect is when an arm or leg doesn't form normally as a baby grows in the uterus.

The exact cause of a congenital limb defect is often not known.

In Billy's case, his condition was not known until birth.

Speaking to the YEP, Donna said she first came across the hero arm when she was researching online.

She came across a story about ambassador Tilly Lockey who uses two of the arms and has presented on Sky News and gone viral online.

Donna said: "I wondered if Billy could get one of the arms too, it would help him do so many different things.

Billy Gregson cc James Hardisty/JPI

"It means the world to him."

Billy is now learning how to use his new arm to achieve his goals.

Donna explained: "He's doing really well.

"He's quite taken to it a lot quicker than anyone thought he would.

"He's learning to write with it as well as he's right handed.

"Billy loves the arm."

Samantha Payne, MBE, COO at Open Bionics, said the company was "so happy to hear Billy is set to continue his Hero Arm journey".

Speaking to the YEP, she added: "We're grateful to the donor and we're hopeful that NHS England will make the decision soon to give access to multi-grip bionic arms to arm amputees.

"They deserve access to this technology as it has a huge impact on their daily living and mental health."

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Billy being fitted with his Hero Arm cc Donna Gregson