Bramley boy with limb deficiency dreams of casting own rod after anonymous £10k donor funds bionic arm
A Leeds boy may be able to achieve his dream of being able to cast his own fishing rod with his dad - after an anonymous donor funded £10,000 towards the cost of a 'bionic Hero Arm' which would change his life.
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'.
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.
By Christmas, Billy is now dreaming of having the arm fitted and being able to cast his own fishing rod alongside his dad Mark - something he has "always wanted to do" according to Donna.
She said: "We are so emotional about it.
"I cried when we were told, we honestly could not believe it.
"This is what Billy wants more than anything, it is going to completely change his life."
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.
"If Billy was to get a bionic arm it would improve his quality of life and also may stop the bullying he gets because of how his arm and hand are.
"Billy likes to go clay pigeon shooting with his dad but he can't hold the gun properly, if he had a bionic arm he would be able to do it.
"It would mean the world to Billy."
Billy's visit to the OpenBionics HQ for fitting also allowed him to pick out some of his favourite designs for his potential bionic arm.
He decided on an Iron Man sleeve and a Star Wars droid inspired sleeve and can't wait to try them, his mum told the YEP.
Donna said: "He is so excited, he honestly can't wait.
"He flew through everything down there and it was such a good experience.
"Billy will go back down in eight weeks for adjustments but we are hoping it could make his entire Christmas."
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."
Billy and his family are just a few thousand pound short of the full target in order to purchase his hero arm.
To donate to his fundraiser, click here.If you believe your child may qualify for funding support for a Hero Arm, you can register your interest here: https://openbionics.com/hero-arm/
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