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
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
"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
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.
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."