Seven-year-old Hailey Dawson was born with Poland syndrome, which is a rare congenital disability that meant that she was born without the three middle fingers on her right hand. Her mother was told by Doctors that, once Hailey was older, a custom prosthetic could be fitted to enable Hailey to use her hand for a broader range of tasks. At the time, Hailey was four years old, and her mother didn't want her to have to wait until high school before she finally received a custom prosthetic. If she did wait, the custom prosthetic would cost the family more than $25,000.
Her mother reached out to a team of doctors at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Using a Stratasys 3D printer, the members of UNLV's Department of Mechanical Engineering created a 3D-printed hand for Hailey. The design is based on the Flexy-Hand 2, an open source design that can be altered, adjusted, and reprinted as Hailey grows. The Flexy-Hand 2 can be printed at a fraction of the cost of a custom prosthetic – the hands could eventually be printed for as low as $200.
But let's turn to Hailey's passion for baseball. Hailey's father coaches baseball, and she has a brother who plays the game as well. Her new hand has given her a chance to get out of the dugout and share in her family’s passion.
When she was five years old, Hailey was invited by the Baltimore Orioles to throw out the first pitch before the game. Hailey was inspired, and the experience led to Hailey’s goal to throw out the first pitch at every Major League Baseball ballpark. After traveling park-to-park in pursuit of her dream, Hailey gained a lot of media attention. Now, she is scheduled to throw out the first pitch on baseball's biggest stage in Game 4 of the World Series, which will be played this Saturday, October 28, at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Hailey is truly an inspiration, and an example of how new technology, like 3D printing, can give us all access to a better life.