5-Year-Old Girl in Texas Gets 3D Printed Prosthetic Arm From Her Local Library

A 5-year-old girl in Texas who was born without the lower part of her left arm received a custom 3-D printed prosthetic from a local public library.

"She is a very happy child, but let's just say she has never smiled so big in her life," Kimberly Vincik said of her daughter Katelyn. "Her face lit up with pure and utter happiness. It was a priceless moment to say the least."

Vincik told ABC News that Katelyn had never let her disability stop her from doing new things but she had been longing for an arm for years.

Vincik, who describes her daughter as "a social butterfly," said Katelyn had been on the wait list for a prosthetic for about a year.

The concerned mother turned to the internet to start researching other options. That's when she found out about 3-D printing technology, and reached out to the Harris County Public Library, who had a 3-D printer available to the public.

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Jim Johnson, the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch librarian, told ABC News that the library was able to obtain the 3-D printer after a donation from a deceased patron.

Johnson said the library had never used the 3-D printer to make a prosthetic limb before; it had mainly been used for "trinkets," "tinkering" and "science fair projects."

Patrick Ferrell, who works at the Innovation Lab in the public library, said the Vinciks drove two hours from their home to meet with Ferrell and other staff.

"We were upfront with the family that we hadn't ever done this before," Ferrell said. "They were happy to go on this adventure with us."

Ferrell said a volunteer group called "Enabling the Future," which designs and tests prosthetic arms, was able to use one of its designs for Katelyn's arm. It took 22 hours of printing to put together the prosthetic.

When it was finished, Ferrell wrapped it up and brought it to Katelyn's house.

"She put it on like she knew what she was doing, and then she told her sister, 'Now we can hold hands,'" Ferrell said.

"I had the honor and privilege of delivering the arm, but our volunteers did the bulk of the work," Ferrell added. "It really was a community effort."

The group would also be available to tweak or modify the arm as Katelyn grows.

"Maybe one day we can bring Katelyn in for a class and she can design her own arm," Ferrell noted.

"We are just one of many libraries across the country that do something like this," Johnson said, adding, "There are so many public libraries out there that are doing amazing things."

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