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Girl, 8, dreams of being gymnast after receiving superhero-themed bionic arm | UK News

An eight-year-old girl has said she dreams of being a gymnast (and a tennis player, artist and teacher) after receiving a new superhero-themed bionic arm.

Safiyyah Uddin, from east London, was born without a left hand but despite this, she has not let anything hold her back, according to her mother Shelenaz Khanom.

But due to developments in technology, Safiyyah is now able to use a bionic arm, and hers is complete with a bright pink Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman cover.

The prosthetic was created just over a year ago by Open Bionics, a Bristol-based company that specialises in creating cheaper, 3D-printed bionic arms for amputees – known as the Hero Arm.

Safiyyah and mum Shelenaz
Image:
Safiyyah and mum Shelenaz say the arm is ‘incredible’

Safiyyah is one of the first to wear her arm with the Spider-Man character cover, part of a new range that the company created after partnering with the likes of Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Sky News Breakfast, Safiyyah proudly showed off how, with the help of the prosthetic, she can throw a tennis ball, hold open a notepad, and use a ruler to draw straight lines.

When asked whether she would like to put her tennis skills into practice as a professional player when she is older, Safiyyah replied: “Yeah,” quickly adding that she also wants to be “an artist, and a teacher, and a gymnast and a cheerleader”.

Saffiyah drawing a line
Image:
Saffiyah drawing a line with the help of her Hero Arm

“Since she has had it, she has said she can do things with both of her arms now, she can use both of her hands simultaneously,” Ms Khanom said.

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“It has just been such an amazing journey and we have had such a blast with this new Spider-Man cover. She can really show off.”

‘Opened so many doors’

The bionic arm works using sensors in the prosthetic that detect movements in muscles, allowing the fingers to open and close and the wrist to turn 180 degrees.

Prosthetic arm grabbing tennis ball
Image:
Prosthetic arm grabbing tennis ball

“During my early pregnancy, I was informed she was going to be born with a missing left hand, there wasn’t any cause, as a parent learning she would be missing a limb really affected me,” Ms Khanom added.

“For a while, I kept doing things with one hand, imagining how she would cope and be able to do things.

“But ever since she was born to see how incredible she was is so inspirational. She has taught me so much.

“I think it has just opened up so many doors for her.”

Sarah de Lagarde, who lost arm and leg in Tube accident, sues TfL | UK News

A mother of two, who lost an arm and a leg when she was hit by two London Underground trains, says she is suing Transport for London (TfL).

Sarah de Lagarde suffered the horrific injuries after she fell into the gap between a stationary train and the platform at High Barnet station in north London in September 2022.

The 46-year-old said she slipped on a wet and uneven platform and “fell into the darkness”.

The fall initially left her with a broken nose and two broken front teeth.

However she then lost her right arm when the train left the platform and despite shouting for help, nobody heard her, so when the next train came into the station, she lost her right leg.

She now uses two prosthetic limbs, including a bionic arm.

Speaking on The UK Tonight With Sarah-Jane Mee, Ms de Lagarde said she has launched legal action against TfL, which she says, has not accepted responsibility for what happened.

More on London Underground

Pic: Sarah de Lagarde
Image:
Pic: Sarah de Lagarde


Pic: Sarah de Lagarde
Image:
Pic: Sarah de Lagarde

Ms de Lagarde said that since the accident, “I’ve been trying to engage with TFL” to discuss “mapping out the learnings because acceptance of failures leads to innovation.

“I have had no response, no engagement, no apology, and now a formal denying of liability of responsibility. For me, that leaves me no other option… and legal action is what I now have to resort to, not what I wanted to do.”

She said: “I am calling on Sadiq Khan again to meet me and other victims of the London Transport Network to discuss these issues urgently before anyone else gets hurt or killed in this way.”

Ms de Lagarde, who works in communications, claims the Mayor of London’s office has turned down her requests for a meeting with Mr Khan, despite an intervention from Sir Keir Starmer – the Labour leader is Ms de Lagarde’s MP.

Mr Khan is chairman of the TfL board.

Pic: Sarah de Lagarde
Image:
Pic: Sarah de Lagarde

“We need there to be an independent and comprehensive review of TfL’s safety procedures so that meaningful lessons can be learned,” she said.

Accidents are still happening on the capital’s transport network, she claimed.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Wednesday, she said: “There were no staff on that platform, and no one was watching CCTV. No one had responded to my screams for help.

“Twenty-two tonnes of steel crushed my limbs, and, if that wasn’t bad enough, I remained on the tracks undetected until the second train came into the station, crushing me for a second time.

“A few weeks before I was hit by the two Tube trains, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my husband, which was a lifelong dream of mine.

“I felt on top of the world, and overnight all that changed. I am now severely disabled for life.”

Sarah Delagarde
Image:
Pic: Sarah de Lagarde


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Nick Dent, director of customer operations at London Underground, said: “TfL is responding to a legal claim which has been brought by solicitors on behalf of Sarah De Lagarde and I am not in a position to comment publicly further.

“However, our thoughts continue to be with Sarah and her family following the devastating incident at High Barnet station and we have offered her direct support.

“Safety is our top priority and we continue to take every possible measure to learn from any incident and put in place appropriate improvements.”

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “The mayor’s thoughts remain with Sarah and her loved ones. He has asked to be kept updated and is very keen to meet with Sarah once the claim is resolved.”

Silicon Valley Bank UK arm hands out £15m in bonuses days after £1 rescue | Business News

The British arm of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB UK) has handed out millions of pounds in employee bonuses just days after its insolvency was averted through a Bank of England-orchestrated rescue deal.

Sky News has learnt that the payouts to staff including its senior executives were signed off by HSBC, SVB UK’s new owner, earlier this week.

Sources described the bonus pool as “modest”, and said it totalled between £15m and £20m.

It was unclear on Saturday how much had been awarded to Erin Platts, the UK bank’s chief executive or her senior colleagues.

One insider said the bonus payments were a signal of HSBC’s confidence in the talent base at its new subsidiary and that the buyer had been keen to honour previously agreed payments in order to help retain key staff.

Employing about 700 people in Britain, SVB UK is a profitable business but was brought to the brink of collapse last weekend by the travails of its American parent company.

Had it not been acquired solvently, the bonuses would not have been paid this week, according to insiders.

More on Silicon Valley Bank

One pointed out that stock held by senior executives and other employees had been rendered worthless by SVB UK’s near-collapse.

In the US, its banking arm has been taken into government ownership and its holding company, SVB Financial Group, has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks buyers for its other assets.

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Bank rescue ‘to protect UK tech’

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Bonuses were also paid to its US staff just hours before the Santa Clara-based bank collapsed, according to reports last week.

An emergency auction in which Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, played a pivotal role drew interest from challenger banks including Oaknorth and The Bank of London.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest lender, struck a deal before markets opened in London on Monday to buy SVB UK for £1.

It was given a waiver from bank ring-fencing rules introduced after the 2008 financial crisis.

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, said the rescue had been critical to preserving funding to some of the UK’s most promising start-up companies.

“The UK’s tech sector is genuinely world-leading and of huge importance to the British economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs,” he said.

“We have worked urgently to deliver on that promise and find a solution that will provide SVB UK’s customers with confidence.

“[This] ensures customer deposits are protected and can bank as normal, with no taxpayer support.”

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Silicon Valley Bank – what happened?

The government had been lobbied intensively last weekend by hundreds of tech entrepreneurs about the parlous state of SVB UK.

They warned of “an existential threat to the UK tech sector”, adding: “The Bank of England’s assessment that SVB going into administration would have limited impact on the UK economy displays a dangerous lack of understanding of the sector and the role it plays in the wider economy, both today and in the future.”

The founders warned Mr Hunt that the collapse of SVB UK would “cripple the sector and set the ecosystem back 20 years”.

“Many businesses will be sent into involuntary liquidation overnight,” they wrote.

Sky News revealed this week that Ms Platts, who has worked in the lender’s British operations since 2007, would remain in her job following talks with Ian Stuart, the HSBC UK chief executive.

SVB UK’s independent directors, who include chairman Darren Pope, are also expected to stay on under HSBC’s ownership.

That indicates HSBC’s intention to enable the technology-focused lender to operate with some degree of autonomy on an ongoing basis.

However, the Silicon Valley Bank brand may disappear in the UK, depending upon its fate in the US, one insider said.

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The turmoil at SVB has threatened to escalate into a much broader banking crisis, with the Financial Times reporting on Friday evening that UBS is in talks to take over part or all of its Zurich-based peer, Credit Suisse.

In the US, a group of large lenders including Bank of American and JP Morgan provided a $30bn deposit lifeline to First Republic on Thursday.

However, its shares continued to slump on Friday, raising renewed fears for its health.

A spokesman for SVB UK declined to comment on the bonus payments handed out this week.

‘It means that every day is the best day in surgery’: Robotic arm assists with knee replacement | Science & Tech News

Will robots rule the world? Maybe.

But right now I’m watching one carry out orthopaedic surgery, and it’s not frightening – it’s fascinating.

Scrubbed in and masked up, Sky News was invited to see a robotic arm assist with a full knee replacement at Walsall Manor Hospital.

It’s the first time that this type of technology has been used at an NHS district general hospital, and leading today’s pioneering surgery is clinical director, Thomas Moores.

“Has it been quite nerve-wracking, getting ready for this?” I ask him, ahead of the procedure.

“No, it’s exciting,” he says.

“The robotic technology helps us plan in advance, so there’s actually a lot less stress in terms of the surgery itself.”

Today’s patient is Jess Sansara who is in his 60s.

He has severe arthritis in his right knee and, for months, it’s been too painful for him to walk.

‘We used to be offering 18-week waits’ but now it’s ‘a backlog of one to two years’

“Patients have had to wait far too long for their joint replacements,” Mr Moores says.

“We used to be offering 18-week waits. COVID unfortunately had given us a backlog of one to two years.”

That’s where doctors hope robotic-assisted operation can help (and where, if you’re squeamish about saws, bones or surgery you might need to skip to the end).

First, the preparation is different.

Using the robot’s technology, a 3D computer image of the joint is made ahead of the operation.

The parts of the deformed bone that need to be removed are marked on this image.

It is those parts that will need to be cut off before the new, artificial knee joint can be fitted.

The robotic arm is mounted on a large mobile platform and gets wheeled in, next to the operating table.

The “hand” end of the robotic arm is securely attached to the orthopaedic bone-saw that’ll be used in surgery.

The surgeon also holds the saw, and can start and stop it.

Now, this is where the plan comes in.

Robot doing knee replacement surgery

The margin for error is tiny

With the saw now on, the surgeon starts to cut the bone under guidance from the robotic arm.

The robot’s sensors limit the surgeon’s saw movements, restricting any cuts to the bone beyond the planned excisions marked on the 3D image.

The margin for error is tiny.

The robot automatically stops the saw if the surgeon strays more than half a millimetre outside the marked area.

We see it doing just that, as Mr Moores – surrounded by colleagues both robot and human – starts to operate.

In front of the surgical team is a large computer screen featuring the 3D image of Mr Sansara’s right knee.

The real-time movement of the saw is tracked on the screen, which also indicates the lines beyond which the saw should not cross.

Walsall Manor Hospital - Robot-assisted knee replacement surgery

‘It means that every day is the best day in surgery’

On the, admittedly, rare occasions that Mr Moores moves beyond those lines, the screen flashes red, the robot steps in and immediately switches off the saw.

“With the robot-assist, really it means that every day is the best day in surgery,” Mr Moores says, “[and] it’s really safe for patients, with less soft tissue damage for some, for others, greater bone preservation.”

In patient-speak, that can mean less pain and a quicker recovery.

For the hospital, it means an ability to free up beds faster.

“Early evidence shows it will probably translate into reduced length of [patient] stay,” says Fahad Hossain, the hospital’s director of research and development.

“The quicker we can get our patients out, the sooner we can get the ones that have been waiting longer in.”

Walsall Manor Hospital - Robot-assisted knee replacement surgery

‘The future of this type of surgery for all patients’

But, unsurprisingly, this technology isn’t cheap.

The hospital’s trust has made an £1.8m investment here, using grant money earmarked specifically for innovation.

At a time when NHS spending and staff salaries are under intense scrutiny, it’s a hefty spend on a piece of equipment with the relatively narrow operational application of hip and knee replacements.

But its backers believe it will help relieve pressure on the health service almost immediately.

“A lot of the strain is coming from a bottleneck of patients in beds,” Mr Hossain says.

“We’re really proud to be able to bring this technology to the community here for use at an NHS district hospital.

“Normally this would be the domain of the private sector, but we believe it’s the future of this type of surgery for all patients.”

Walsall Manor Hospital clinical director, Thomas Moores, with patient Jess Sansara, who has had surgery helped by a robot.
Image:
Thomas Moores with patient Jess Sansara

‘Better patient outcomes’

Around two hours after he went under general anaesthetic, Mr Sansara’s operation is complete.

He’s been fitted with a new artificial knee joint, his mobility looks good and he’s off to recovery.

“If he passes all our physio assessments, we’ll have him home tomorrow afternoon,” Mr Moores says, “and I think that’s what this robot technology is going to give us – help reduce those lengths of stays, help get us better patient outcomes.”

The next morning, the hospital messages to let us know that Mr Sansara is up and doing well.

Forget man versus machine: this robot is here to help.

Sunak to urge world leaders to ‘move faster’ to arm Ukraine as he leads minute’s silence on war anniversary | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is to urge fellow world leaders to “move faster” to arm Ukraine’s troops as he leads a minute’s silence on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

The prime minister is expected to use a G7 meeting on Friday to call on allies to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine as there is an urgent need for Kyiv to gain a “decisive advantage” on the battlefield.

Mr Sunak will lead the UK in a minute’s silence at 11am to mark the anniversary in front of the Downing Street door.

He will be joined by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives from each of the 11 nations that are part of the British-led Ukrainian troop training programme, Operation Interflex.

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“For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset,” Mr Sunak is expected to tell G7 leaders in a virtual meeting.

“This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence.

“The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward.”

Mr Sunak will also reiterate his offer of UK support to countries able to provide jets to Ukraine as he and his wife, Akshata Murty, hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of Number 10.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Western countries to send fighter jets to Ukraine and while the UK has announced training for Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard jets it has not sent any planes.

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Johnson: ‘Send jets to Ukraine’

Former PM Boris Johnson has joined those calls and told Sky News on Thursday the UK needs to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with the aircraft.

But so far, neither Mr Sunak or his defence secretary Ben Wallace have not made a steadfast commitment to do so.

Sky News exclusively reported on Thursday the Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence, despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Read more:
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A look back on a year of war in Ukraine

On the eve of the anniversary, Mr Sunak said: “As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country.

“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict.

“As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who met Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv recently, said the UK’s support “is as firm and unstinting today as it was on that dark day one year ago”.

He said his party stands “in lockstep with the government” in continuing support to Ukraine “regardless of what other political disagreements we may have”.