While the world was battling with a global pandemic, 26-year-old Kristjan Leis was losing an internal battle that came close to costing him his life.
On May 18th 2021 in a railway station in Estonia, the high-achieving student who was the top of his class, took a final glance at the train time-table on his phone. This is the only thing Kristjan remembers of that night.
The Estonian consumed a mixture of medication and alcohol and had planned to step out and lay across the track a mile away from the station in time for the fastest train to run through.
That evening Kristjan suffered life-changing injuries and lost his arm. He recently returned to the track where he had blacked out, harrowing memories flooded back, he believes he survived by accident: “I fell on the rails in a different way than I'd practised.”
Miraculously escaping with his life, Kristjan vowed to fight the depression that has been with him since high school.
Determined to find a sense of purpose and joy in life, the football enthusiast decided to move to Essex, England “An important step to rebuilding my life is to get a bionic arm that will allow me to regain hand function. You can't get one in Estonia, but you can in England.”
With a bionic arm Kristjan hopes it will allow him to start enjoying some of his favourite hobbies again like cycling. While the Hero Arm is available to UK residents privately, it’s not currently available under the NHS. To help secure funds for the new prosthesis, Kristjan has launched a crowdfunding appeal which in a matter of weeks has already reached a third of the funding target needed.
While Kristjan is sharing his story to help complete the crowdfunding campaign for his bionic arm, he hopes it will also encourage anyone seeing even the smallest similarities in their experiences to seek support.
The Hero Arm built by British manufacturer Open Bionics uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements.
Open Bionics is on a mission to support individuals like Kristjan turn their disabilities into superpowers. The company uses innovative technologies such as 3D printing and 3D scanning to ensure each Hero Arm is custom-built and bespoke to the user.
To help Kristjan achieve his goal of getting a Hero Arm, view his crowdfunding campaign here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-kristjan-get-a-hero-arm
Upper limb amputees interested in getting a Hero Arm can register interest at www.openbionics.com/sign-up where Open Bionics will determine eligibility and arrange an assessment.
Open Bionics was founded in 2014 by Joel Gibbard MBE and Samantha Payne MBE with the goal of developing affordable, assistive devices that enhance the human body. In other words, Open Bionics turns disabilities into superpowers. The Bristol-based bionics company is known globally for using 3D printing and 3D scanning to make advanced, affordable and accessible bionic limbs. In October 2020, Open Bionics launched the latest version of its Hero Arm, bringing greater reliability, comfort and quality to their flagship product, with upgrades that include robust laser-sintered frames, innovative socket technology, and new magnetic covers. Children and adults with below-elbow limb differences can register interest at: www.openbionics.com/sign-up