For Kids, Dad's Bionic Hand Recalls 'Star Wars'

Eric Jones and his children Lanie and Alex, i i

Eric Jones and his children Lanie, 10, and Alex, 7, visited StoryCorps in Mamaroneck, N.Y. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Eric Jones and his children Lanie and Alex,

Eric Jones and his children Lanie, 10, and Alex, 7, visited StoryCorps in Mamaroneck, N.Y.


In 2007, Eric Jones survived a bout with cancer, but complications from his treatment led doctors to amputate his right hand. He then became one of the first Americans to receive a bionic hand. He recently spoke with his son Alex, 7, and daughter, Lanie, 10, about his recovery.

"How did you get your bionic hand, Dad?" Lanie asks.

"On the Internet," her father says.

"Did you just go to Google and look up, um ... 'bionic hand?' " she asks.

Eric doesn't recall what his actual search term was. "But I was looking for a prosthetic, and I found this bionic hand," he says. "It's a glove that fits on the stump, and there's a sensor that picks up a muscle signal in the palm of my hands. And I flex the muscle and the fingers move, and they close all at once. And then I flex it again, and then the fingers open."

"What do you miss most about not having a hand?" Lanie asks Eric.

"I miss playing the piano," he says, "because I could play the piano when you sing, Lanie. And I can't throw the baseball yet, but I'm trying to figure out how to do that so that we could play catch, Alex."

Alex asks his dad, "Do you get tired of people asking about your missing hand?"

"Not really — people get curious. But it was pretty cool when I came to show and tell at second grade, though, right?"

"Yeah, that was cool," Alex says.

Eric Jones and his bionic hand

When he was looking for options for a prosthetic, Eric Jones found his bionic hand on the Web. His hand was made by Touch Bionics. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

Eric then asks his children, "What do you guys think about Dad's bionic hand?"

"Darth Vader just pops into my head," Lanie says. "And so does Luke Skywalker, 'cause they both have robotic hands."

After Eric underwent chemotherapy for cancer, his immune system was weakened. He developed sepsis, an inflammation, which in turn, spawned a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation — which cut off the flow of blood to his hands and feet. His treatment included being put into a medically induced coma for four weeks. He spent three months in the hospital.

"What was it like for you when we came to visit you in the hospital for the first time?" Alex asks.

"Oh it was awesome," Eric says, "'Cause I hadn't seen you guys in a long, long time."

"For months," Lanie says.

"But I was a little nervous that you guys would be scared, and you were gonna be sad," Eric recalls. "But when you guys came into the hospital room for that first time, you just kind of hung out with the old dad in the bed.

"And most kids, if their dad got this sick, would probably not handle it quite the way that you guys did, which I'm very, very proud of. Because I drop things all the time, I spill things all the time ..."

"... Every single day," Lanie says.

"I need help from you guys all the time. So, one of the things I admire most about both of you guys is that you're very patient, and you help your dad," Eric says.

"Thank you, Dad," Lanie says.

"Well thank you," Eric says. "These were some great questions."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.



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