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'odd one out' Student born without a right arm launches fundraiser to pay for a new bionic limb

A myoelectric limb is a battery-powered device that uses the muscles in your limb to control the prosthetic.

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Cathal Hourigan

Cathal Hourigan

Cathal Hourigan

A Cork man has created a GoFundMe to raise the €50,000 needed for a new 'bionic' prosthetic arm. 

Cathal Hourigan (22) has a condition called amniotic band syndrome and was born with his arm cut off just below the elbow.

Speaking to Neil Prendeville on Cork’s RedFM today, Cathal highlighted the extortionate cost of living as an amputee in Ireland.

The accountancy student explained that you are only entitled to one free prosthetic limb and must fund any further replacement independently.

Now at the age of 22, Cathal is looking for a more permanent solution.

He needs a myoelectric arm, which he would have for life, but the procedure is not currently offered for free by the HSE.

A myoelectric limb is a battery-powered device that substitutes for a missing arm.

It has been described as 'the closest alternative to an anatomical arm' and uses the muscles in your limb to control the prosthetic.

It can mimic motions such as flexing the elbows, pointing a finger, and rotating the wrists.

He said: “The reason I need this is so I can live independently, my parents still have to do a lot for me as I still live with them, but I will have to move out eventually and live on my own.

"The purchasing of a new prosthetic costs thousands and unfortunately is a figure I won’t ever be able to afford.”

He considered different private health options and finally consulted with Ottobock Cork, who specialise in prosthetic fittings: “I went up to them in May of last year and I just said what I wanted it to do and what I needed it to do and they came back with that price.”

It would be the perfect solution if the cost wasn’t so demanding.

“It would be a carbon copy of my left hand,” he added.

In addition to the financial costs of being an amputee, Cathal mentioned that his confidence often falters as a result of his condition.

He said: “Throughout secondary school I’d have always felt like the odd man out. Even doing sports and stuff, which I’d be fairly passionate about, I always felt different.”

He shared that getting a myoelectric arm would improve his confidence: “When I’m going into a job interview or application, I won’t feel inferior, so I’m equal.

“I don’t expect an employer to take me on when someone can do twice the amount of work that I can do.”

It would also benefit him in his chosen career of accountancy: “You need to be able to type and you need to move fast with computers.

“I know discrimination in the workplace is illegal, but I just feel sometimes when I am going for interviews or jobs it would be something like ‘we’re not hiring’ and then I might see someone new working in that place like two weeks later,” the 22-year-old continued.

“Hopefully now if we get this prosthetic that I will be able to work. I’m tired of feeling like the odd one out.”

The Cork native has set up a GoFundMe to raise the €50,000 required for his prosthetic arm and has raised over €8,000 of his goal.

He is overwhelmed by the “generosity” of donators and stressed the importance of the cause on the airwaves, highlighting the injustices that amputees face on the daily.

“I’ve never understood why amputees or people who have been in accidents need to fight so hard for something that other people have.”

Cathal’s GoFundMe page can be found here.

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