Boy gets new hand thanks to 3-D printer, UH students

A Houston area third grader has a new hand thanks to a 3-D printer.

HOUSTON - A Houston area third grader has a new hand thanks to a 3-D printer.

It’s something Rafael Esquivel was born without.

He can now do what other kids take for granted.

“Something I can do with this hand, what I couldn’t do before is the monkey bars,” Rafael said. “I can carry a water bottle with this hand.”

Once teased by other children for being different, Rafael’s new hand is now the envy of classmates at Lakeland Elementary in Humble.

“They would make fun of me and say a monster bit me,” Rafael said. “Now they said they wanted to cut their arms off.”

Rafael’s new hand is a plastic prosthetic custom-crafted by the University of Houston chapter of Enable. It’s a worldwide group that makes prosthetics for children using 3-D printers.

It takes about 25 hours to make and only costs $35.

“It is really, really rewarding,” said UH student Jalal Yazji. “The mom cried, I got a hug, everybody got a hug.”

Rafael’s P.E. teacher and her son did the initial research that led to his new hand after seeing him upset in gym class.

“And then these kids from the U of H, they go and make him a hand,” said Rafael’s mother, Maria Sanchez. “It’s just amazing, and just when I was about to give up on everything and anything.”

Rafael says he feels a little more normal having a hand he was born without, yet still very special.

“How can I put it?” Rafael said. “I feel like I’m different from other people.”

The UH Enable group never charges for the prosthetics it makes. For more about the group, visit its Facebook page.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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