My Child Has A Hand Difference

When my second son was born, amongst the joy of having another boy, part of me was saddened by his right hand missing his three middle fingers. A mixture of emotions took place. I felt blame and guilt after he was born — perhaps what I ate during the pregnancy could have caused this to happen. Was it hereditary? No-one in my family or my husband’s family was born with a hand difference. I started to worry how my family would react. What would my friends say when they came to visit us in hospital? How was my son going to cope? Will he be picked on at school? Will he find a job? Will he be able to play an instrument? Will he get married? So many questions raced through my mind the first night I was in hospital — ranging from him being a child to a man.

His life lay out before me — how was I going to handle this? No-one in the hospital could tell me what it was or what caused it — I felt so isolated.

Fortunately, friends and family celebrated my son’s birth regardless and this made me realise — yes, we should celebrate indeed. He is here — we welcomed him to the world and will be there for him no matter what!

When he was 4 months we met with a hand surgeon who told us that his condition was called ‘symbrachydactyly’.  Well, this 16 letter word has never left me. My son was operated on when he was 10 months. His thumb had a lower bone missing, so a bone was taken out of his right middle toe and fused into his thumb. After his plaster was removed, he started walking. He is still a very determined boy who gives everything a go — his hand difference does not prevent him from doing anything he wants to do!

When our son was very young I began a mission to help other people living with a hand difference and in October 2000 The Aussie Hands Foundation Inc was established. The website was launched in November 2005 at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Through the Aussie Hands Foundation I hope that people like us can get together to share their experiences, knowledge and inspirational stories.

— Elizabeth, Vice President & Founder