The first patient to receive a bionic hand at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow


The first NHS patient in the UK to receive a life-changing bionic hand became a grandmother of three who lost her limbs after contracting sepsis from a paper cut.

Marguerite Henderson, 57, got a hand from “Hi-Tec Michelangelo” and says she can’t wait to be able to eat a two-handed burger.

She lost both legs and her left arm to sepsis three years ago; her right hand was partly saved.

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Just last month had the prosthesis installed, but it had already given her much more freedom.

Marguerite has been cared for at the WestMARC center on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow by specialist prosthetic wearers for the past year.

I’ve only had a prosthesis for a few weeks,” Marguerite said, “but it’s already helped me be more independent.

“It means very simple things like cutting my own food, eating different things, feeling comfortable eating out – I can’t wait to eat a burger, which of course requires two hands.”

After her near-fatal illness in February 2018, Marguerite, from Crosshill, Fife, has made tremendous progress.

She had to get both legs and her left arm amputated after sepsis tore through her body within days.

She had partly saved her right hand and stunned everyone with how much she could manage to use it.

“I’m so glad the surgeon was able to save part of my hand,” she said. To write, knit, talk on the phone, do my own hair, use my wheelchair and more, I can use it.

This is not the life I would have preferred, but I owe the NHS my life.

My new left hand would make me so much more independent than that. Now it just opens up a lot of things for me. I’m really pleased about that.

Marguerite’s new high-tech hand works to make the hand shift in various ways by tightening various muscles in her forearm.

Lead prosthetist Vincent MacEachen says, “Marguerite was a natural – it usually takes many weeks to get used to a fresh hand, but if someone is a good candidate, you can usually tell within five minutes.”

“The hand of Michelangelo is very intuitive.

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In the socket on Marguerite’s arm there are two sensors – essentially one to open and one to close.

The pace and movement the hand makes is dictated by how hard Marguerite tenses her muscles.

She can make several motions with practice – opening, closing, rotating the left and right wrist and positioning the thumb for various grips.

“It was a pleasure working with Marguerite, who was motivated to try new treatments and put in the necessary practice. I wish her all the best in the future.”

Through Zoom, the hand was changed.

Alan Gordon and Alistair Ward of Ottobock, the maker of the hand, studied the reactions of Marguerite from a distance and then forwarded recommendations on the changes to be made.

Until the hand worked correctly, they repeated this process.

“Everybody at WestMARC was amazing,” Marguerite said.

From the smiles at the front door to the time the workers spend making sure you’re satisfied, each of them is special.

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They are listening to me, telling me what is important to me.

“I’m handled with emotions and expectations like a human being – 100 percent of the time it’s for my good.

For them, this isn’t a job, it’s a calling, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.

“I feel so privileged to have been given this wonderful hand, and every day it helps me do more and more.”


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