A youngster is showing off her speed after being one of the first in the country to get a running blade.
Macey Hand, from Claverley, near Bridgnorth, was the first child outside of London to get a carbon fibre running blade, thanks to new Government funding.
The seven-year-old says her new blade is “springy” to run on and much lighter than her other prosthetic leg.
And it helps the sporty youngster, a member of Wolverhampton and Bilston Athletics Club, to take part in the activities she enjoys.
Macey was born with fibular hemimelia, where part or all of the fibular bone is missing. Her mother, Julie Lester-Hand, 45, a music teacher and receptionist, said: “It was a bit of a shock when she was born, we had no idea there was anything wrong.
“The fibular bone hadn’t grown to where it should, which caused the tibia to bend and the bones and ligaments in the ankle were fused.
“They weren’t initially sure what it was so we had to go and see a specialist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
“There they told us they could operate through childhood to lengthen the leg but there was no guarantee that would work and there were three criteria that she would meet. In fact she didn’t meet one of those criteria so the only option was amputation.”
Before her first birthday, Macey underwent a symes amputation, done through the ankle joint.
Julie said: “For us, it was just important that she walked at the time a normal toddler would. I remember going in for the operation and everyone saying how calm we were about it.
“I think we had been through all that worry before and, for us, it was just important that Macey would be able to walk.
“We have a picture of her on the drive with her walker wearing her first prosthetic and I remember we picked it up a few days before and hadn’t told my mother-in-law so she came and Macey was wearing it and walking around and she was amazed.”
The funding for Macey’s blade was announced by George Osborne when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and comes after much campaigning by Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope Foundation.
The life of the Hope family changed dramatically in April 2007, when a bus collision led to their two-year-old daughter Pollyanna suffering a below-the-knee amputation, and leading to the death of Pollyanna’s grandmother, Elizabeth Panton from Market Drayton. Pollyanna’s mother Sarah Hope and her twin sister Victoria Bacon launched the charity in 2011, to help child amputees across the world.
In the March 2016 budget, Mr Osborne announced a £1.5 million National Health Service programme to provide activity prosthetics for children and fund new research, believed to be able to help 500 children up and down the country.
Mr Osborne said he had found the money after the campaign to highlight the issue by Sarah Hope.
And for Macey, the funding has made a big difference, making running and sporting activities easier than ever.
Julie said: “We went to a routine appointment with the prosthetist Andy Sharpe at the West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre in Selly Oak and while we were there, out of nowhere he said he had received an email and he was able to start measuring up patients for blades.
“He said if we had a bit more time to stay he could do it there and then.
“We were shocked, it is something that we had hoped might happen down the line. When she wears her prosthetic, people say they wouldn’t know there was anything different about her.
“She’s had the blade since January and it is much lighter, it makes running easier, she can use it when she does sports.”
All of Macey’s prosthetics are custom made.
Her father Dave, 49, an insurance investigator, added: “When we heard about the funding we emailed our MP Philip Dunne and he got us in contact with the health secretary who said he wasn’t sure what the criteria was for the blades. We forgot about it a bit so when they told us it was really out of the blue.”
Macey goes to Claverley CE Primary School, along with her brother Austin, 11, a player for the Bridgnorth Spartans. She was recently visited at school by Mr Dunne, where she explained to her classmates more about her blade.
Macey said: “I love cross country. The blade is a bit springy, it is easier to run on and a bit lighter. It is really comfy.”Subscribe to our Newsletter