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 |  Aug 16 2011, 7:01 AM

14-year old Matthew James was born without a left hand. He dreamed of having a sophisticated bionic hand, but his family couldn’t afford the £30,000. But a chance meeting with Ross Brawn gave Matthew a life-changing experience: a new hand, for free.

And Matthew didn’t have to find out any uncomfortable truths about his father, either. He wrote to Ross Brawn, the man in charge of the Mercedes GP Petronas team, after Brawn visited his school in Berkshire, England. Matthew asked the F1 team to help his family raise the money, and even offered to have the hand sponsored by Mercedes-Benz to compensate.

A member of the team reached out to Touch Bionics, a Scottish company specializing in advanced medical devices. They waived the cost of installing the hand and training Matthew on how to use it, while Mercedes was kind enough to cover the rest. And the hand is advanced enough for an F1 team: it features five individual motors, allowing each finger to move independently. The F1 team and Touch Bionics have agreed to share technology that could benefit both organizations.

Matthew, who also received a free tour of the Mercedes factory, is already getting used to his new hand—he can already open jars and make tea—but laments the fact that now, he has to do more chores.

[Source: BBC News]