A seven-year-old boy born without an arm has been able to hold a fishing rod with two hands for the first time – after receiving a £13,000 bionic limb.
Inspirational Alex Sparkes spent birthdays ‘wishing his arm would grow’, only to be left heartbroken when he was told it wasn’t possible.
But he has been gifted a ‘life-changing’ prosthetic arm by ‘Britain’s kindest plumber’ James Anderson, 55, who was touched by Alex’s moving tale.
Since receiving his Black Panther-themed arm, Alex has been able to put toothpaste on his toothbrush for the first time and will learn how to tie his shoelaces.
And Alex is ecstatic to have finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of holding a rod for the first time during a fishing trip with his dad Robin Sparkes, 31.
Alex fulfilled a lifelong dream of holding a rod for the first time during a fishing trip with his dad Robin (William Lailey via SWNS)
The youngster has been pictured reeling in fish with Robin at Cornfield Fisheries in Lancashire.
Teaching assistant Robin said: “With his new hero arm, he’s a lot more independent, I don’t have to be there by his side all the time with the fishing rod or by the bankside.
“I’m confident in the knowledge he can handle the fishing rod on his own and he’s able to catch his own fish.
“I had to constantly be there whenever he handled the road, especially if he had a decent-sized fish on, just in case the weight pulled on his right arm.
“But now I can take a bit of a step back and watch over his shoulder as he’s fishing rather than having to constantly having to manage him with it.
“We’re realising what he couldn’t do before, rather than what he can do now.
“He’s becoming that more independent in and around the house, but also outside the house.”
Alex said his arm is ‘amazing’, adding: “I can now pick up stuff. I like that I can hold the rod. I feel happy when I’m fishing, I’ve got two hands and I can reel the rod.”
Mum Dionne, 33, said she’d had a normal pregnancy and her scans came back clear.
But she was shocked when Alex born without a full set of limbs after a 20 hour labour.
Doctors later looked into the reason for Alex’s missing appendage and decided that it was due to a “sporadic event”, which had occurred by chance.
Alex fulfilled a lifelong dream of holding a rod for the first time during a fishing trip with his dad Robin (SWNS)
Crushingly, Dionne said young kids were “scared” of him when he first went to school after spotting his single arm.
And she revealed his birthday wish one year was for missing arm to re-appear.
He’d been on a list of patients due to have an NHS prosthetic arm before the pandemic, but three years later, he was still waiting.
Robin and Dionne, from Oswaldtwistle, Lancs., visited an Open Bionics fair, which makes a robotic arm so advanced it allows wearers to pick up a pin with its fingers.
They launched a bid to raise the £12,700 needed to purchase the arm, which they said would be life changing for Alex.
When plumber James, who has helped thousands with his charity Delpher, saw the appeal he ‘fell in love’ with Alex and offered to pay for the arm.
Dionne, who works for betting company Ladbrokes, said: “I was at work and I got the message and I thought: ‘surely that’s not going to be true.’
“I couldn’t do my job then – I was just so excited. James then told Alex himself because it’s such a kind gesture.
“Then James told him and he didn’t know what was going on but now he’s got the arm, every half an hour he’s asking me if I can believe he’s got his arm.
“I don’t think he processed it until he got the arm.”
Dionne said Alex ‘had the biggest smile on his face’ when picked up his new bionic arm on July 24.
Alex, with mum Dionne and dad Robin fulfilled a lifelong dream of holding a rod for the first time during a fishing trip (SWNS)
She added: “His eyes lit up, I don’t think he knew what to do or what to say.
“He was just making silly noises and pulling funny faces because when he gets over-excited, he tends to act silly.
“But he definitely was a character when he saw his arm for the first time.
“He’s just enjoying feeling like he has two arms.
“He now can sit and watch TV and has one arm on his head and one arm on his knee and he couldn’t do that before.
“It’s also given him the independence of pouring a drink himself and not needing any help and he can fully get dressed by himself.
“He could do it before but now he’s got his arm, he can do it normally.
“To me, that’s him feeling like he’s complete.”
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Produced in association with SWNS Talker