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Documentary: The Boy With No Hands

A ten-year-old boy from Loughor near Swansea - is the star of a new documentary to be shown on BBC One Wales.

Alan Gifford has faced extraordinary challenges - and  has now become the first child in Wales to have a state-of-the-art £30,000 bionic hand. He was born with hands but after a serious illness an agonising decision was made to have them amputated to save his life at the age of three.
 
The Boy With No Hands shows how Alan has learned to cope as he grew older, but still struggles with some things most people take for granted. And even with his closest friends, he refuses to talk about what it's like not to have hands.
 
His mother, Hannah, emotionally recalls how Alan's health became a cause for concern soon after he was born.
 
"They scanned Alan after he was born and found out blood flow wasn't getting around his body as well as it should have been," says Hannah. "I was devastated to find out at nine days old he had to have his first operation to keep him alive. Between then and three, I'd say he's easily had 40 operations just to sort out his heart.
 
"He was in intensive care when I noticed that Alan's finger tips were starting to turn black, and within a week both hands right down to the wrists were completely black."
 
Although Alan's hands were dying, doctors had to wait until he was strong enough to undergo more surgery.
 
"Just after his third birthday they said he was well enough to go for the operation to have his hands removed... The last time I held Alan's hand was basically the night before his operation and taking him down to the theatre for him to have his hands removed."
 
Hannah worked tirelessly for a year, raising the money that she believes will allow Alan to benefit from the very latest technological breakthrough. After many hours of research and countless charity events, coffee mornings, auctions and motorcycle ride-outs to raise the funds, the programme follows Alan on his ground-breaking journey.
 
Not only is he given the chance to be the first child in Wales to receive a state-of-the-art £30,000 bionic hand - Alan becomes the second youngest in the world to have one.
 
The programme, a GRJ Media Ltd production for BBC Wales, follows the family to Scotland where Alan faces an intensive week-long process of having his bionic hand fitted and learning how to use it. This does not involve any surgery - the highly-sophisticated electronic hand fits onto Alan's arm like a glove. But there is one major challenge - mastering the new technology.
 
The human hand is a major feat of engineering and extraordinarily difficult to replicate with man-made mechanics. And although this bionic hand is at the forefront of prosthesis technology, Alan has a long way to go to reach his own expectations.

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