Students use 3D printers to reconstruct severed fingers

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The power of technology is being harnessed to help one man who lost the use of his hand. The people helping him are an unlikely group of kids. 

Mike Thomforde has been wood working his whole life but on June 30th, for the first time, he put on gloves to use the table saw. 

“Something on the glove itself caught and swoosh,” said Mike. 

Mike lost his left index and middle fingers. Almost lost his ring finger. Doctors told him they couldn’t re-attach them. 

“Even now when I tie my shoes, it’s difficult just to even tie my shoe,” said Mike. “So it’s like just swallowing that, but I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father that gave me the strength to get through.”

That’s when Mike discovered that there was a group here in Honolulu that builds prosthetics using 3D printers, and they do it for free. He never imaged the team would be a bunch of students at Mary, Star of the Sea School in Kahala. 

“To find out that it was children. Elementary kids,” said Mike, “going to help me make fingers and I can use my hands again. Wow, I was blown away.”

Mike’s prosthetic fingers are still in the prototype stage.
He’s already given the students his measurements, but this is the first time they’re meeting in person. 

7th grader Rory Boyd and 6th grader Sarah Marsh were always interested in 3D printing, but they never thought they would actually be making a difference.

“I was thinking this is a great opportunity to help someone and change someone’s life, and I felt really responsible and proud about it,” said Rory. 

“I think it’s amazing printing people new limbs or fingers, just experience the world in a whole different way,” said Sarah. 

The kids really had to put their thinking caps on because the model they’re making for Mike is custom made.

“I find the kids really like to do that when they think they can make a difference in the world. It’s great. It makes it more than just a school project,” said 3D Fabrication Lab Instructor Aaron Marsh. 

For Mike, this gift is full circle. For more than 30 years he and his family have built a charity focused on serving neglected children in remote communities all over the world. Now kids are helping him.

“It’s just an amazing way how God works. When it happened it’s like woe is me and yet just to see how God can use even a difficult trauma thing and use it and He’s using them to be involved in it and connecting us all together and I’m humbled at that,” said Mike. 

Mike is the school’s first client, and they’re hoping to help others especially children. 

“You never know what could happen with 3D printing,” said Sarah. 

Mike’s prosthetics will probably be complete two weeks from now. If you would like to learn more or know someone who needs help, click here. 

Serving Our World 

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