ALBANY, N.Y. — All hail the ice queen! Nine-year-old Karissa Mitchell, born without a right hand and most of her wrist, was gifted with a "Frozen"-themed prosthetic arm last week.
The arm was put together by Enabling the Future, a national organization with a chapter at Siena College in Albany, New York. For its first project in 2015, the student-run Siena e-NABLE group created an Iron Man-themed hand that went to 5-year-old Jack Carder in Ohio.
"Her mother reached out to the group on campus -- the Siena e-NABLE chapter -- once she had seen that first project that they completed," said Jason Rich, Siena College's director of marketing and communications.
After seeing Jack's Iron Man hand, Karissa immediately thought of "Frozen."
"She's watched the movie at least 100 times. We sing the songs all the time. We even have a karaoke machine that's 'Frozen'-themed," said Maria Mitchell, Karissa's mother. The prosthetic was built using a 3-D printer and consisted of 30 parts. It took close to 30 hours to print, CNN affiliate KCTV noted.
To fulfill Karissa's wish of becoming a Disney princess, the team used "a pretty transparent ice blue color filament and added snowflakes to the forearm and her name with an Elsa crown on the cuff," said Alyx Gleason, the project lead and president of Siera e-NABLE. The arm also came with an Olaf LED light source.
This isn't Karissa's first prosthetic. "She had one from Shriners when she was 4 that she used until she was about 6. She didn't use it consistently because it was very heavy, and it had a harness attached to it because it used her shoulder movements to open and close the little hand that it had," Mitchell explained. Her new 3-D printed prosthetic, however, is lightweight in comparison and doesn't require shoulder movements for control.
"It is a great way for people to create inexpensive prosthetics for those in need," Gleason wrote in an email. "The recipient will receive a hand/arm at no cost to them. The different hand and arm designs only cost $30-$50 to print and assemble. This is such a great opportunity for kids specifically because they grow a lot. It might not be feasible for a family to pay thousands of dollars for prosthetics as their kids will continue to need new ones."
This is the first arm that Siena e-NABLE has designed and printed. "They thought it would be a hand, initially, but as they got further involved in the project, they decided she needed a full arm," Rich said.
The group is continuing to keep in contact with the Mitchell family. "We want to hear her feedback so that we can see how she uses the arm and if there are any improvements we could work on for her," Gleason said.
As for the little things Karissa can do that excite her, Mitchell said, one of the best is "just being able to pick up a stuffed animal."
Karissa's goal is to be able to write with her new hand. She'd like to be able to write her name with it.
The next project that the group plans to take on is building an arm for a girl named Veronica from Uganda. After an accident, she was forced to have her arm amputated past her elbow.
Anyone who is in need of an arm or hand is encouraged to contact Siena e-NABLE.
"It's so amazing to see college students take time from their studies and their social lives to do something like this for somebody else. It's heart-warming," Mitchell said.