Advertisement

The Aussie Engineer Giving Kids Free Prosthetic Limbs

For kids like Jayden Gaunt, the work of one Victorian engineer is proving to be life-changing.

After being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, it looked unlikely Jayden would ever be able to walk, let alone make music.

"When the doctors told me he wasn’t going to be able to walk or talk or comprehend or do anything, I just went “no, that can’t be right”," his mum, Michelle, told The Project's Gorgi Coghlan.

Michelle and Jayden Gaunt sit down with The Project.

"[I] took him to every specialist I could find and did everything I could to try and make him as healthy and happy as possible."

Despite the challenges, Jayden beat the odds and is today a thriving 12-year-old with a keen interest in drumming.

"I just like that it can make a lot of noise," he said.

READ MOREYoung Afghan Boy Dances For Joy After Getting Prosthetic Leg

But due to his condition, Jayden was left with limited use in his right hand, making his new hobby a little bit more difficult.

"I would just go twice as fast as other people would. I made a lot of mistakes though, trying to do that," he explained.

Now, thanks to a prosthetic hand created by engineer Mat Bowtell, Jayden is drumming up a storm.

The Project's Gorgi Coghlan with Mat Bowtell (right). Photo: The Project.

After losing his job at the Altona Toyota factory in 2017 following the collapse of Australia's automotive industry, Bowtell was determined to put his engineering skills to good use.

Using 3D printers, the 36-year-old began creating functional hands and fingers for kids in need.

Bowtell doesn't charge for his creations, which on the commercial market can cost upwards of $15,000. His designs -- which are also available online for free -- have been downloaded more than 3500 times across the world.

According to his estimates, Bowtell has saved people around $22 million.

Image: Free 3D Hands

In May, he was even recognised by Queen Elizabeth II as the only Australian recipient of the Commonwealth Points of Light award. The honour celebrates inspirirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth.

Bowtell has come a long way from working in the spare room of his Phillip Island home, and now operates out of a brand new factory with the help of seven volunteers.

"We have had a lot of support from the community, and I just decided to use that money to really step up another level," he told The Project.

"I think as a society we have a responsibility to look after people who aren’t as fortunate as ourselves and look, for me, that’s what it’s all about."

READ MORE: How Your Old Jeans Could Become Someone's Prosthetic Knee

For Jayden, thing began to change during his very first meeting with Bowtell.

"He gave me the thing they can put the drumstick in and he brought me in here and I started playing the drums and I just felt hopeful and happy," Jayden said.

"Everything feels just how it’s meant to be."

You can catch The Sunday Project's full interview with Mat Bowtell and Jayden Gaunt at 6:30pm on Sunday, on Channel 10.