Caroline Coster has a “sunny outlook” on life, even after contracting Covid and subsequently contracting sepsis which resulted in the loss of all four of her limbs. As we catch up with Hero Arm user Caroline about what life looks like after sepsis, positivity radiates, Caroline says she “is lucky to be alive and is celebrating every day”.
Caroline, how did you find out about the Hero Arm?
My daughter was searching for what solutions there are for quadruple amputees and she came across the Hero Arm. I was really excited because it looked really funky and aligned closely with my teaching background in computing. I remember the first time I saw 3D printing at a trade show and was blown away by the technology so the thought of having my own 3D printed arm was exciting as it was such a perfect application of this technology.
I love how the Hero Arm is not pretending to be a real arm, yet I feel so comfortable wearing it outside because I get the right type of attention rather than the pity.
How did you obtain funding for your Hero Arm?
My old school I taught at completed a village trail fundraising event and a lady came along who was the owner of Champneys Health Farm. They have a charitable trust and they actually funded my Hero Arm for me.
What happened after you got funding for the Hero Arm?
I visited the Open Bionics clinic and met with the prosthetist where I got to try out the Hero Arm there and then. My Open Bionics clinical experience was amazing. The first time I picked up a ball with my Hero Arm and I held it and dropped it, it felt like having a superpower. Having the technical and clinical expertise as part of the prosthesis fitting process was really incredible as I was able to see how the Hero Arm could be customised to meet my personal needs.
What is your most favourite thing about the Hero Arm?
The appearance. It looks so cyborg! I love how it’s not pretending to be a real arm yet I feel so comfortable wearing it outside because I get the right type of attention rather than the pity I sometimes get.
What type of activities do you use the Hero Arm for?
My dog Duke loves it because I can give him a good scratch behind his ears. I use my arm for driving my wheelchair, cooking and threading my sewing machine. It is so much easier to pick things up than it is with hooks and stumps. A lot of the fun in my recovery has been learning new things.
Tell us about the attention you receive now
I receive a huge amount of attention from media outlets. This was before I came out of Bedford hospital and I am working with the BBC on a video diary about the Hero Arm. The children at my school are fascinated by the Hero Arm so I’ve been writing a blog to show them how the Hero Arm works. My arm is helping me to break down barriers because children want to talk to me about it and it helps with my charity work.
Tell us more about your charity work
For the past 10 years, I have been helping a village called Utange which is located in Kenya and is near Mombasa. It is a traditional bush village in one of the poorest areas of Kenya. Because I love sewing, I have been taking old jeans which have been donated to me and I make them into various items such as bags and door stops. I sell them at craft fairs and have so far raised £45,000 for this village.
Are you thinking of getting another Hero Arm?
I don’t know yet. It’s difficult because I feel so lucky to have one, it almost feels greedy to get another. Certainly if it became available on the NHS, I’d definitely go for it and I’ve definitely got that in mind.
If you are wondering what sepsis after surgery looks like, read more about bionic Caroline here.
If you’ve had an amputation because of sepsis and would like more information about the Hero Arm, register here.