Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

'Pioneering' arm for 7/7 victim

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New arm for July 7 victim

A victim of the London bombings has had a prosthetic arm fitted to her bone and skin in an operation which could herald "a new generation of reconstruction".

Kira Mason was opposite one of the four men who detonated devices on the transport network on 7 July 2005.

Surgeons were able to fuse a metal pin with her skin tissue, and a battery pack helps to ensure she can clench her fist and flex her muscles.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Steve Cannon said it was a "breakthrough"

"The wonderful technology in Kira is the ability to put a piece of metal inside the body, then put it outside and stop it from becoming infected, and also allow the piece of metal to incorporate into the bone," he told BBC One's Breakfast.

'Fabulous' development

Mr Cannon - from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, north London - said getting muscle and skin to grow onto the metal was a revolutionary technique.

Mrs Mason was on a Tube train between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations when the explosion occurred.

She was so badly injured that her husband was unable to identify her in hospital and dental records had to be used.

She described the prosthetic arm as "fabulous".

Kira Mason
Surgeons were inspired by the way deer antlers fused to skin

"I've always been quite positive but I think this has boosted my confidence when I go out and I try to do things.

"It's given me a degree of independence which I might not have had before," she said.

Norbert Kang, a plastic surgeon from the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, said the process of merging the skin and the pin was similar to the way "that skin interacts with deer antlers".

This process had been observed in the animals "and then copied in the design of the implant that we've put into Kira", he said.

"We've been able to prove that we can get osteocutaneous integration - that's to say the soft tissue fuses with the surface of the metal."

"We can create a new generation of reconstruction" with this technique, Mr Kang added.

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