Stories of our impact
A helping hand for Phoebe
Our Chief Disruptor uses 3D printing to help a girl born without her left hand
Phoebe Dyer is an inventive six-year-old who loves Frozen and Trolls. Born without her left hand, she is also the coolest kid in class, thanks to the skill and generosity of her friends at Deloitte.
Her story began in October 2016 when her aunt Claire Handby, a director in our Financial Advisory Real Estate business in Manchester, visited a 3D printing event organised by the creative folks at Deloitte Digital. There, she held a prototype adult hand – an emotional experience as the technology offered so many possibilities for people like Phoebe. She also met Ed Greig, our Chief Disruptor, who suggested they make her niece’s missing limb together.
A priceless moment
Ed and his team joined a WhatsApp group with Claire and Phoebe’s parents, Keith and Julie, to swap information. He also engaged with Enabling the Future, a vibrant worldwide community that shares knowledge and templates of 3D-printed hands.
In April 2017, Ed sent Phoebe a white plastic prototype, along with a set of pens so she could add her own designs. The hand worked using kinetic energy from Phoebe’s elbow and featured fishing line for ligaments.
“To see her shake my brother’s hand with her left hand, for the first time in their lives, was priceless,” says Claire. “It’s something our family will never forget.”
Over the next six months, the team created two more prototypes, with Phoebe helping to design each one. Her ideas – Princess Poppy from Trolls, coloured plastic, snowflakes – have challenged the printing techniques available, which motivates Ed and his team.
Claire continues: “Phoebe has gone from being the child that is identified as a victim to the cool kid – her friends say they wish they had a hand like hers. And everything has been done with such kindness, it has epitomised Deloitte’s values.”
Testing the tech
The latest hand is lighter and more robust. It’s easier for Phoebe to fit and has grips on the fingertips, so she can use scissors.
For the next one, Ed will explore a pivot in the wrist, so Phoebe can hold a drink to her lips. He also wants to harness kinetic energy from her wrist rather than her elbow, so the plastic doesn’t need to cover so much of her forearm.
The entire project has been based on collaboration and every piece of feedback has helped Ed to evolve the design, increasing the potential to take it to a wider market. Each limb costs just £20 to make and production is far less intensive than other solutions, so they are easier to replace as children grow. This could lead to benefits, for instance, within the NHS.
“We’re very excited about the possibilities,” explains Ed. “Our goal now is to look at how we take this further and broaden the impact. I think we have a really good chance of doing that.”