An amputee’s dream of having two hands has come true as he was fitted with a bionic arm 35 years after he accidentally shot himself.
Ryan Backos, now 38, shot himself in his chest and arm with a gun when he was just three years old at his childhood home in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He spent two and a half months in hospital and had numerous operations to try to save his right arm – but eventually he had to have it amputated.
Ryan adapted to life with one arm over the years, but was left unable to do simple tasks such as using a knife and fork at the same time.
Now he’s gotten a custom-made bionic arm fitted, which cost £9,500, and uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions. The contractions are then amplified and converted into hand movements.
Ryan said to Metro UK: ‘It’s always been a dream of mine to have two hands.
‘Now that I’ve got it, I’m able to go the supermarket and push the trolley with my right hand and look at the shopping list on my phone on my left hand.’
‘It’s just the small things that have made an incredible difference.
‘Before I would have to push the trolley, then stop and look at my phone, then put my phone back in my pocket and carry on pushing the trolley.
‘I then ended up forgetting things because I wasn’t able to look at my phone all the time.
‘I can now lock my hand into a position of holding something and I could actually push the trolley while checking everything on my phone.
‘I could even grab things off the shelf while still having my hand attached to the trolley.
‘It’s just made a phenomenal difference.’
He says the ‘life-changing’ arm has helped him complete every day tasks that he’d previously struggle with such as pick up a bottle.
‘The arm is in the way, so I’m still getting used to it to be then able to use it for driving.
‘I’m just practicing with it in my day to day life.
‘I’ve been able to pick up a bottle and pick up a ball and throw it so it’s just the small things.
‘I’ll be able to use a steak knife in the future when I do have a steak.
‘I also couldn’t use a knife and fork at the same time so it’s just small things like that that I’ve not been able to do before. It’s just helping me mentally.’
Ryan was brought up in South Africa, which he said was ‘hard and challenging’ as a lot of people teased him for having one arm.
He then moved to the south of Portugal, where his family are from, at the age of 20. He then moved to the UK six years ago where he still lives now in Widnes, Cheshire.
‘It was hard and challenging as a lot of people teased me.
‘It was quite difficult but I always tried to look on the positive side.
I used to say to them that what they could do with two hands, I could do it with one.
‘But it was difficult, unfortunately that’s just kids for you and I was teased all through school which was quite hard.
‘Obviously when I got older, I got bigger and they didn’t actually see a point in doing it then.’