Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Charlotte's dream - bionic limbs

Amputee Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman is off to a confidence-building camp in the US state of Maine. Photo / Michael Craig
Amputee Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman is off to a confidence-building camp in the US state of Maine. Photo / Michael Craig

Quadruple amputee Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman dreams of bionic legs and hands allowing her to pick groceries from a supermarket shelf.

The artificial limbs by world prosthetic leaders Touch Bionics are a few years - and around $200,000 - away for the 9-year-old survivor of meningococcal disease. But to Charlotte, they're worth the wait.

When she turns 18, Charlotte wants to trade her short prosthetics for a pair of the long lean bionic legs sported by her American mentor, triple amputee Cameron Clapp.

"Cameron's bionic legs are electric and I really want to get some of them when I am a teenager," Charlotte told the Herald on Sunday. "His legs sense the ground 50 times a second and he can do anything in them. "

In two months, Charlotte will fly to the US to attend Camp No Limits, a confidence-building gathering for amputees. Clapp will be there. His legs and an arm were amputated after he was hit by a freight train on his way home from a September 11 memorial ceremony.

Charlotte's dad, Perry Bisman, said she had met the "Keanu Reeves-looking" mentor at the same camp four years ago and his positive attitude had a lasting effect on her.

"It was valuable for her to see someone like him getting up and getting on with it," Bisman said.

This week, the Waiheke Island family started fundraising for the camp through the online charity Givealittle.co.nz.

They need around $25,000 for the trip, with any above that going into a trust for the bionic legs and i-hand.

Charlotte said the recovery after her latest operation, to remove a bone spur from one of her stumps, had been painful. "It has taken me a long time to get used to it and it has made wearing my legs a bit sore," Charlotte said yesterday. "I can't wear them too long at school."

Since Charlotte's arms and legs were amputated in 2004 her family have been on a constant fundraiser.

Because the amputations were due to illness, she was not covered by Accident Compensation.

- Herald on Sunday

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