Cutting off my hand will give me my life back: Car crash mother who struggles to butter toast wants bionic limb


For more than a decade, Nicola Wilding has struggled with  everyday tasks such as dressing herself or buttering a slice of toast.

The 35-year-old lost the use of her right hand after she was injured in a car crash 12 years ago.

But she is so desperate to lead a normal life again that she is pleading with doctors to cut off her hand – and replace it with a £20,000 bionic one.

Pioneer: Nicola Wilding would become the first British patient to undergo the procedure

She would be the first British patient to undergo the pioneering procedure, carried out by Austrian plastic surgeon Oskar Aszmann.

Miss Wilding, a trainee accountant who saw the metal-fingered prosthetic hand on a television programme, said: ‘As soon as I saw the bionic hand I thought “I want one”.

‘There was no doubt in my mind.

‘I don’t care what it looks like, to me the idea that I could use my hand again after all these years would be incredible. I want to get on with my life and do things.

‘It’s everyday tasks – getting dressed or preparing a meal, opening shampoo bottles in the shower, even spreading butter on toast.

‘My hand is just floppy and dead.’

The mother-of-one from Surrey, who is left-handed, was driving home from a day out when she collided with another car and brought her arm up to shield her head.

Her arm was fractured in several places, which have now healed.

But doctors could not reverse injuries to the brachial plexus – the nerves running from the neck through the shoulder and down the arm.

Initially her entire arm was paralysed, but after six operations to transplant nerves from her leg and chest, and intensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, her bicep has recovered.

However, she still has no feeling below her elbow.

With her son Callum aged just three at the time of the accident, she moved in with her parents and is now studying while working as a banking assistant at a travel firm, using one hand to type.

Nicola Wilding meets Austrian surgeon Oskar AszmannNicola Wilding meets Austrian surgeon Oskar Aszmann and shows him her injured arm

But she is in constant pain, and was resigned to never regaining the use of her hand until she watched a BBC Newsnight programme about Dr Aszmann’s work.

Nicola's right hand is completely paralysedNicola’s right hand is completely paralysed

Using the German-made artificial hand, he has helped two European patients.

Thanks to sensors attached to the skin, the hand is powered by the body’s own nerves and receives signals from the brain telling it to pinch or grab something.

Miss Wilding said: ‘This would let me have the movement of a normal hand, and the latest ones will allow you to feel as well.’

It could also help with her pain, which may be caused by brain signals to the limb failing to get through.

After meeting Dr Aszmann in London she is hoping to go to his clinic in Vienna in May where he will check the electrical output of nerves in her lower arm.

They will need to be strong enough to steer the bionic hand. If not, she may need a bionic forearm as well.

Patrick (pictured) was the first to voluntarily have a limb amputated so he could be fitted with a prosthetic handPatrick (pictured) was the first to voluntarily have a limb amputated so he could be fitted with a prosthetic hand

She will also need to raise the money for the £20,000 hand – which needs to be replaced every ten years – and the surgery costs.

She said: ‘That is a big challenge, but I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen.’

Dr Aszmann said: ‘These are risky decisions – they are irreversible.

‘Once the extremity is gone it’s gone, you cannot put it back on.’


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