PORTLAND, Ore. -- One glance at Jude Rochon and it's obvious. He loves his Oregon State Beavers.
The six-year-old from Astoria was born without a hand, but that's changing.
“My wife and I are just really thankful to Dr. Chi for doing this for us,” said Mike Rochon, Jude’s dad.
Dr. Albert Chi and his team at Oregon Health & Science University made a new hand for Jude. No surprise, the colors match his OSU gear.
“It's pretty cool,” said Jude.
The prosthetic was made with a 3D printer.
“When you compare the prices, it's about $50 of material for the 3D printed device versus traditional devices that can be upwards of $50,000 or so,” said Chi.
Chi, who is a trauma surgeon at OHSU, said one of the nurses he works with knows Jude’s mom. When Chi heard about Jude, he knew he had to help.
For years, Chi has been using 3D printers to make prosthetic devices. Back in 2013 he started volunteering with a nonprofit called Enabling the Future.
On the organization’s website, Chi said anyone can download files that will give directions on how to make a hand using a 3D printer. The files are free to whoever wants them. He and his team of students used two of his personal 3D printers to build Jude two hands. Chi said it took hours of work over the span of a couple months.
One of the hands defaults to a closed position, while the other defaults to an open position. Jude will be able to use either one depending on the task he wants to accomplish. They’re made of biodegradable plastic and only weigh a couple pounds.
“It will be easier to do stuff,” said Jude.
Jude's family won't have to pay a dime.
“There's just a huge need. Children are growing so quickly. It doesn't make sense to build an expensive prosthetic device and replace them every year, every year and half,” Chi said.
With some practice, Jude will be able to do a variety of things on his own. On Thursday he practiced texting his mom on a cell phone, holding a cup, and drawing.
But Jude’s day soon got even better. He was also given a new scooter.
He and his family are feeling fortunate.
“He gets by really good as is and that's how God made him. Just to be able to see some of the things that are a little harder be easier, it's pretty exciting,” said Rochon.
To top it off, Jude gave Chi an Oregon State hat as a thank you.
Chi has made dozens of hands for families in the U.S. and he says he's looking forward to making dozens more for any families in need.
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