After being born in a Syrian refugee camp with an upper limb birth defect, 10-year-old Mohammed received a new hand Sunday.
Mohammed got two free prosthetic hands from the groups UF Generational Relief in Prosthetics, also known as GRiP, and Gators for Refugee Medical Relief. Eight students delivered the hands to Mohammed in Jacksonville.
Mohammed, whose last name is withheld for medical privacy reasons, got a main prosthetic with a Spider-Man design, his favorite superhero, and another as a back-up, said Rani Mahmoudi, a UF biomedical engineering junior. Mohammed didn’t know he’d be receiving the prosthetic Sunday.
“He’s been telling all his friends that he’s excited for the hand,” the 20-year-old said. “There is a lot of confidence issues that come from having a deformity, and I feel that having his own prosthetic is really going to boost his confidence a lot.”
Mahmoudi met Mohammed during summer while tutoring him in English. Mohammed moved to the U.S. about a year ago, he said.
“He’s a very fun kid,” Mahmoudi said. “He loves playing soccer, and he actually wants to be an engineer.”
With each measurement for his prosthetic, Mahmoudi said they took the opportunity to teach him about engineering. GRiP designed the prosthetics over the course of more than two months, he said.
“We would explain to him what each measurement is for, what we do and different techniques,” he said.
Normal prosthetics can cost about $10,000, but Mahmoudi, the president of Gators for Refugee Medical Relief, said creating Mohammed’s prosthetics cost about $50 each.
“It adds certain functions like being able to hold a water bottle,” he said. “I think the biggest impact that it’s going to give him is a sense of personality. He’s going to have his own prosthetic device that’s really going to make him express himself.”
Shakila Ali, the secretary of GRiP, said the prosthetic will help Mohammed feel like he’s not alone.
“Most of the kids that have a missing limb, it becomes a part of their identity, but they don’t let it control their decisions or alter their life in any way,” the 20-year-old said.
The UF health education and behavior junior said the delivery of the prosthetic hand was meaningful because she was a refugee herself. Ali and her family were refugees from Afghanistan, and she moved to the U.S. when she was 5 years old.
Ali said it felt great seeing the group work so hard on making Mohammed’s prosthetic hand.
“Seeing the kid and his mom’s reaction was well worth their project,” Ali said.