By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
December 19, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) – Aidan Choquette set a goal this spring. He wanted to raise enough money to buy a bionic arm. He thought it would take months.
It took just days.
The 10-year-old from Sopchoppy is now the first person in the state of Florida to get one.
Aidan dreams of riding his bike and holding on with two hands instead of one; he was born missing his left arm just below the elbow. So when he found out earlier this year that the FDA had approved a new 3-D printed bionic arm, called the "Hero Arm," he was determined to get one.
"I'm hoping it can help me do everything that a normal person could do," Aidan told us back in June.
The story prompted a flurry of donations to Aidan’s GoFundMe account. Donations surged to more than $15,000 within days of sharing his life changing wish on WCTV.
Now, that dream is a reality. Aidan received his bionic arm in late October, posting photos to Facebook as he put it on for the first time.
"So this is the Hero Arm, huh?" we asked.
"Yeah," Aidan said as he lifted the bionic arm out of the box, put it on and pushed the power button.
"What do you think now that you actually have it?"
"I think, like, thank you to all the people who participated in fundraisers and cared for me," Aidan said.
"And tell me some of the things that you've been able to do with it so far, that you're learning to do?"
“Holding my own hand, holding mom's hand," Aidan said as he grabbed her hand and shook it.
“It’s incredible,” his mother Sonia Choquette said. "It makes me happy for him, because it's something he's always wanted to do."
"Isn't that good?" Aidan said as he made each of the hand signals with his new bionic arm. "It looks like a real finger. Look!"
Aidan is now learning to use the bionic arm and control it. We stopped by a recent appointment at Hanger Prosthetics.
"See that? Cup stacking," he said as he finished stacking and unstacking plastic cups with his bionic hand.
Upper limb specialist Eric Ramcharran says progress is rapid.
"He has really taken off with this. There are six different functions in a hand and he knows how to activate all of them," Ramcharran explained. "That is really, really incredible."
It's exhilarating and exhausting.
"It hurts, a bit," Aidan said.
Right now Aidan can only wear the Hero Arm two hours a day as his muscles get used to doing things they've never done before.
Aidan practiced throwing a ball and cutting a slice of bread. They’re simple every day movements most of us take for granted.
"That was beautiful," Occupational Therapist Amy Todd said as Aidan practiced with a fork and knife.
“It teaches him how to control the prosthesis so that when he wants to do something like cutting the pie or picking up a cup for drinking with it, then he has the confidence and the ability to do it,” Todd said.
"Can I grab that?"
Aidan had no problem grabbing my cell phone.
"Yes, I'm going to grab the camera...grabbing the camera," Aidan said.
Aidan is still waiting for a green light before he can ride a bike with his new Hero Arm. Falling and hurting himself, his bionic arm,or both, is a real risk until doctors are sure Aidan can release his grip on the handlebars.
"Very soon I will," Aidan said emphatically.
"We're getting there, right?" Ramcharran said.
"Yeah, we're getting there.”
Everyone is anxious to see what this 3D technology and this determined young man can accomplish with the new Hero Arm.
“It’s surprising me how quickly he picks things up,” his mother said. "I think he just has a go get 'em attitude.”
"You're the first, right?"
"Yes, in Florida," Aidan said.
Aidan becoming the first thanks to the generosity of dozens of people, many of them total strangers.
"I really enjoy sharing this moment with him,” Ramcharran said. “It's special for me and I hope that everybody that contributed understands that he is a very special young man."
"It's epic!" Aidan said as he gave his mother a high five and then turned toward our camera.
He gave me a high-tech high five too.
"Awesome, awesome! Good job buddy!"
Aidan is going to put the bionic arm to the test. He's a rough and tumble 10-year-old anxious to try everything.
He's already needed one repair, but his prosthetist says the sky is the limit for what he can do. Aidan will gradually get to wear the Hero Arm more and do more in the months ahead.