Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
May 20, 2024

Hopkins surgeon builds artificial hand for teacher

By SARI AMIEL | November 20, 2014

Dr. Albert Chi, a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an assistant professor of surgery at the Hopkins School of Medicine, recently decided to construct a prosthetic hand for Patti Anderson, a fourth-grade teacher at Western Salisbury Elementary School after her students wrote to the doctor on her behalf..

A fifth-grade class was reading a Baltimore Sun story through Newsela, a program that simplifies news stories to boost students’ reading comprehension skills. The article profiled a five-year-old boy who received a glow-in-the-dark prosthetic hand that Chi had constructed using a 3-D printer.

Chi has been able to use this printer to develop prosthetic hands that cost around $50, in contrast to the traditional prosthetic hands that cost $40,000.

The students wrote letters to Chi’s office to ask him to build a hand for one of the school’s fourth grade teachers, who had lost the use in one of her hands after an accident during her senior year of high school.

“Thank you for all the hard work for young children with Robotic hands,” read one of the letters. “Can you please donate a Robotic hand to my old 4th grade teacher? I care about her and that is why I am writing this letter.”

Chi is going to be very busy in the next month. A naval reservist, he will be deployed again in December. Nevertheless, Chi reported that he was so moved by the letters that he received from the Western Salisbury students that he agreed to construct a hand — which is planned to be zebra-patterned — for Anderson.

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