Cheshire Man Spends Retirement Making Prosthetic Hands for Kids

Bruce O'Donnell of Cheshire Assembles a Prosthetic Hand at MakeHaven
Bruce O'Donnell of Cheshire Assembles a Prosthetic Hand at MakeHaven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Most people spend their retirement lying on a beach or traveling to exotic places, but not Bruce O’Donnell of Cheshire. He’s using his extra time to help kids in need become more independent.

O’Donnell is a member of MakeHaven, located on State Street in New Haven. The makerspace is a place where people come together to hone a variety of crafts. O’Donnell’s craft involves 3D printers and a little elbow grease.

“I’m using 3D printers to make prosthetic hands for little kids, basically three to six year olds,” he explained.

The hands take a few days to print.

“For each hand there’s about 35 different parts that have to be printed out,” O’Donnell explained.

He then spends another couple of days sanding the pieces and assembling them, ensuring they fit together.

The final product, called the Raptor Reloaded, is sent to the Hand Challenge in South Carolina, an organization run by middle school teacher Chris Craft.

“He coordinates getting them all together, tests them to make sure that they’re operable,” O’Donnell explained.

The Hand Challenge then sends the prosthetics to kids across the U.S. as well as in countries like India, Nigeria and Venezuela.

“You can basically just strap the thing on,” O’Donnell demonstrated. “They would need to have a wrist and part of the hand below the fingers.”

O’Donnell estimates the hands costs just $5 to make and says they help fill an under served gap.

“The big medical device makers really haven’t embraced this space because there’s no money in it,” he explained. “They’re not going to design a $10,000 hand for somebody who’s going to need it for about three or four months. The kids going to outgrow it.”

For O’Donnell, his new hobby allows him to serve a greater purpose.

“I worked in the financial industry on Wall Street for about 40 years, and this is kind of my way for doing something useful for the world,” he said.

A thousand schools, districts and people around the world are currently helping to make 3D printed hands for the Hand Challenge, which has given out 400 prosthetics to kids.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s