Maria Iglesias

Age: 42
Location: Catalonia, Spain, near Barcelona
Occupation: Piano teacher
Clinic: Touch Bionics Centre Of Excellence
Product: i-limb digits

Background

In July 2003, concert pianist Maria Antònia Iglesias underwent amputation of all extremities following pneumococcal septic shock of unknown origin. After spending 53 days unconscious in hospital, the new mother awoke to discover doctors had saved her life but had been forced to amputate parts of both her feet, her left hand and all the fingers on her right hand.

Despite the horrendous outcome of her illness, Maria remains overwhelmingly positive about what happened.

"What did I learn?" she asks. "A lesson in humility and the tremendous learning that comes from facing an enormous personal challenge."

Treatment

In September 2008, funded by NHS in Spain, she was fitted with ProDigits, the first powered solution for partial-hand amputees, at Touch Bionics' Centre of Excellence in Scotland, becoming the first Spanish patient to be fitted with the product.

The revolutionary prosthesis now provides Maria Antònia with functionality she previously struggled to achieve, such as writing, holding cutlery and drinking from a glass. ProDigits has helped improve many other activities such as working in the kitchen, cleaning the house or holding a book.

The activities that have been most improved are the ones she needs two hands for, and when her right hand has to adapt to a medium-large object.

"I am very pleased to be part of this project and the benefits my new hand is giving me are like a dream," said Maria Antònia. "Even a simple thing like holding and lifting a glass of water to drink from was impossible before, but with ProDigits I can do it easily."

Perhaps most significantly for Maria Antònia, as a former concert pianist, she is now able to teach the piano again, using a passive silicone prosthetic hand.

It means I'm allowed to feel again the artistic creation which is part of my spiritual expression Maria Iglesias

As one of the earliest ProDigits patients, Maria Antònia developed a close bond with the Touch Bionics team.

"I feel that ProDigits represents an important scientific advance," she said. "And I feel part of the team in the sense of acting as an apprentice in the development of ProDigits.

"Looking back, I feel kind of dizzy thinking of all the experiences, new forms of development and the process I've gone through and the things I had to realise since I suffered the sepsis. I'm very conscious of the technical, material and professional efforts and of the teamwork of all the people who designed and produced my ProDigits.

"Meeting all those individuals, groups, professionals - a whole lot of people with tremendous knowledge and experience - has been an extraordinary experience."