13-Year-Old Uses Her 3D-Printed Bionic Arms for Makeup Tutorials

Tilly Lockey, 13, lost most of her arms to meningitis when she was just a baby.

Just like any 13-year-old, Tilly Lockey from England loves to do makeup. Unlike most 13-year-olds, she does it using her 3D-printed bionic arms.

Tilly has been working on her makeup skills and posting tutorials online ever since getting her first set of medically approved 3D-printed prosthetics after a bout with childhood meningitis forced doctors to amputate most of the arms she was born. 

"Tilly posted a video doing her makeup on her Twitter last year and everybody seemed to love it,” her mom, Sarah Lockey, told SWNS. “She mainly started to put makeup on when she became a teenager so the arm has been such a huge help."

The 39-year-old mom from Bristol explained that Tilly was barely walking when she first fell ill.

“The day Tilly got sick, we were teaching her how to take her first steps. It was a really happy day, normal day, no signs she was going to be ill in the middle of the night,” Lockey told Meningitis Research Foundation. “At 3 o’clock in the morning, something went wrong.”

She explained Tilly was vomiting and had a fever for most of the night, and by the next afternoon, she began breathing irregularly and Lockey brought her to the doctor.

An initial check-up diagnosed her with the flu, but when Lockey discovered a rash on her body, she took her young daughter straight into the emergency room.

Immediately, doctors jumped into action and rushed her into treatment, and another set of doctors pulled Lockey aside.

“[They] sat me down and basically told me the worst thing I would hear,” Lockey recalled. “That my daughter was probably going to die.”

Tibby was given zero chance of survival, but 10 blood transfusions and two amputations of the hand later, Tibby survived the horrifying ordeal.

“It’s such a horrific disease. To see the kids go through that much pain, I mean it’s a killer,” her mom said. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.”

Tibby learned to live without hands for a while, since prosthetics cost nearly $25,000, but eventually got a pair of myoelectric arms that give her basic movements.

Tilly’s new arms, which she got in 2016, are considered the first of their kind. She received them thanks to technology company Openbionics and are the first medically approved 3D-printed prosthetics. The hands are more delicate than the average prosthetic and allow for more precise movements.

She now works with the company on continuing to develop the arms and making them more efficient for practical use.

"She has achieved so much already in her life,” her mom said. "I am so proud."