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Using 3-D printed hand, Las Vegas girl throws first pitch

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Posted at 3:39 PM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-23 15:39:04-04
Hailey Dawson grips a baseball March 22, 2015, as she prepares to throw the first pitch at UNLV's game against Northwestern. (Robbie Hunt/FOX5)

Hailey Dawson grips a baseball March 22, 2015, as she prepares to throw the first pitch at UNLV’s game against Northwestern. (Robbie Hunt/FOX5)

Las Vegas, NV  — As a typical 4-year-old girl, Hailey Dawson loves her dolls, stickers and anything to do with Frozen, but she does have something that sets her apart.

Dawson was born with a rare birth defect called Poland syndrome, leaving her without a fully formed right hand.

“She was born without her right pectoral muscle,” said Hailey’s mother, Yong Dawson, during an interview with FOX5’s Elizabeth Watts in February. “I think it’s like in the seventh to eighth week of gestation; it affects the growth of her hand. It was like a lack of blood supply to the area.”

Hailey didn’t let that hold her back, even though it made some activities she wanted to do difficult. Especially, when she wanted to play baseball with her older brother.

That’s when Hailey’s family turned to engineers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where students have been using 3-D printers on a variety of projects. The students were eager to help.

That’s when Hailey’s family turned to engineers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where students have been using 3-D printers on a variety of projects. The students were eager to help.

“A lot of our students are looking for projects to design components and to design prosthetics that someone would actually use,” said Dr. Brendan O’Toole, an engineering professor. “It looked like something we would want to do. We didn’t know exactly if we could do it, but we definitely wanted to be involved.”

Using an existing design for an adult prosthetic hand, the group scaled it down to fit Hailey. She uses the hand, which is secured with Velcro, to, among other things, throw a ball.

On Sunday, she used those new ball-tossing skills when she was asked to throw out the first pitch at UNLV’s baseball game against Northwestern.

“We’re excited that the students had an opportunity to work with Hailey and interact with Hailey and see what she needed,” said Hailey’s father, Gregory Dawson. “They put everything into this hand, and you can see the results of it.”

Using her printed hand, Hailey was able to grip the ball and throw it about three  feet to open the game, which the Rebels won 7-2.