Durham high school class building prosthetic hand for Raleigh boy

Posted November 3, 2014

— A 12-year-old Raleigh boy is one of three children expecting to receive a new prosthetic hand, courtesy of a class of Durham high school students.

Juniors and seniors at City of Medicine Academy recently raised money for their Disease and Society class to buy a 3-D printer to create the prosthetic for Matthew DiFrancesco, who was born with his right hand not fully formed.

As part of an organization called E-nabling the Future, the students will learn about prosthetic design while customizing and creating DiFrancesco's new hand.

"I'm looking forward to it to help me get more active with sports," DiFrancesco said Monday, when he visited the class to get a glimpse of his hand being made.

"Another struggle I've had is cutting paper," he added. "I'll finally get to fully grasp it and cut it easily."

He'll receive his prosthetic in about two weeks.

The City of Medicine Academy is a magnet school that puts students on an accelerated track toward careers in medical and health professions.

All students wear scrubs to class to acclimate them to the health care environment.


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  • jackaroe123 Nov 4, 2014

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    #1, the article states they raised the $ themselves, so it wasn't taken away from more disadvantaged kids. #2, this project is awesome, and it is the wrong thing to complain about with regard to underfunding elsewhere. Complain about all the $ spent on high stakes testing that disadvantaged kids fail and which leads to more $ thrown at the same type of testing which ends up just lining the pockets of the private companies creating those tests. Take that $ and apply it toward real help for struggling students.

    Again, using this story to make that point is poor form.

  • alh5600 Nov 4, 2014

    These kids are the future that will help everyone.They're the ones that will develop better science, save our lives, & others from the “travesties” of the world when you & I are too old to think. ALL CHILDREN deserve the best that we can give them. Higher IQ kids deserve a more challenging education, just as those who struggle deserve special attention at their level. These kids shouldn’t be forced to plod along with everyone & not be able to do better too. What some of you are saying is that higher intellect kids don’t deserve our money to help them grow just because they're smart. You assume that just because they are smart, they will be just fine. WRONG! It means they get a different way of learning that is adjusted to their abilities. It means that we're embracing the need for helping children help us in the future.This school is higher enrollment of economically disadvantaged children & minorities. It's a magnet school which means that all children have the opportunity to

  • Duff Dry Nov 3, 2014

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    No, this is a great point that needs to be made over and over. I laud the efforts of these kids and yes, I wish the opportunity were available to all NC students. But we should remember that a large number of high school students in NC are getting a sub-standard education.

  • trianglerelic Nov 3, 2014

    Very cool. My concern with a School doing this is ongoing maintenance of such a device. A prosthetic limb will require a lifetime of ongoing adjustments and replacement parts. Not sure how a school can commit to it's long-term support, especially during off-hours, weekends, holidays. Still a cool idea.

  • kre2 Nov 3, 2014

    Air Biscuit (Love that name) is right on target. It is a shame that a few are allowed to benefit and the rest have to fight for the crumbs. My childs high school doesn't even have enough money to buy text books. It is great that they raised the money...but so what. What about the rest of the student in NC...what about them.

  • Erica Konopka Nov 3, 2014
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    Ah, never mind. It's a magnet school. Very cool, indeed!

  • nonPC Nov 3, 2014

    A high school that actually prepares students...and does great things...way to go Durham!

  • Erica Konopka Nov 3, 2014
    user avatar

    What an amazing gift for this boy, and an equally amazing opportunity for the kids enrolled at this school. I didn't even know this school existed. Is it private?

  • Linda Kerns Kellogg Nov 3, 2014
    user avatar

    This is fantastic! Kudos to all the young men and women in that class and their teachers for making a difference in the lives of others. This is heartwarming.

  • 678devilish Nov 3, 2014

    That would be so wonderful. Medicine has come a very long way. Thank God for blessing these special people in doing these kind of things to help people.