A HEROIC former Para who lost part of his arm serving in Afghanistan has become the first person to receive a 3-D printed “hero arm” on the NHS.

Darren Fuller lost the lower part of his right limb in 2008 during an incident involving mortar ammunition while he was serving as a member of the Parachute Regiment in Helmand Province.

But 12 years after his devastating injury, the 43-year-old, who lives in Colchester with his wife and four-year-old daughter, Sky, has received the multi-grip prosthetic thanks to funding from the health service’s Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel.

The limb was produced by Bristol company Open Bionics and works by picking up signals from the muscles in his residual limb.

When Darren, who is better known as Daz, puts on the arm and flexes his muscles just below the elbow, sensors detect the naturally-generated electric signals and turn these into hand movements.

He is the first veteran to receive the hi-tech piece of kit, which has been dubbed the Hero Arm, funded by the NHS.

Darren said he has been given a new lease on life by the prosthetic.

Gazette: Darren Fuller plays a board game with daughter Sky Darren Fuller plays a board game with daughter Sky

He said: “The first few weeks have been a voyage of discovery.

“There are so many things I’m doing two-handed compared to before and so many things I’m still discovering.

“Doing things together as a family that may not have been possible or a lot harder before has been great.

“I can also now remember the last time I ate with a knife and fork as it was yesterday.”

Darren enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment in 1994, serving for 20 years, including completing tours of both Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

He was medically discharged in 2014 but now works for Blesma, the limbless veterans’ charity, as an outreach officer.

Through his work, Darren hopes he will see many more Hero Arms in action in the future.

He said: “To be the first veteran to get a Hero Arm is fantastic but it leads on to me being hopefully the first of many.”

At the moment the prosthetic is only available to people through private clinics in the UK, US and Europe, however, Open Bionics is working with the NHS on a clinical trial.

Eventually this could see the prosthetics offered to more veterans like Darren located across the UK.

Open Bionics co-founder Samantha Payne said: “The fact Daz is the first person to receive funding through an NHS funding pathway gives hope to the dozens of people with upper limb differences in the UK who are currently actively crowdfunding for their hero arms and hundreds more who are waiting patiently.

“We very much hope the NHS sees how helpful these devices are and begin offering them to more amputees.

“The hero arm is made in the UK and is currently covered by French and Irish national healthcare systems but not England’s.

“We have a waiting list of amputees who cannot afford private healthcare waiting for the device to be available via the NHS and we’re excited to supply them with a hero arm in the future.”