Colin Macduff blew off part of his middle finger in a gun accident. He then made himself a prosthetic finger from bicycle parts.
He is so pleased with his new finger that he is selling them to other finger amputees and is hoping to give one to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also a middle finger amputee.
“How hysterical would that be to give a politician the finger and get away with it?” Macduff asked ABCNews.com.
Macduff, 41, from Olympia, Wash., wasn’t laughing when he shot his finger off with a shotgun in 2009.
When he asked his doctor about prosthetic options, the doctor told him that he would not need a prosthetic and simply needed to get used to it. Unsatisfied, Macduff found a prosthetic company he liked, but they told him he would need to have his finger further amputated to fit the prosthetic’s design.
Macduff, a former welder and bike rider at a bicycle shop with a degree in computer aided drafting and design, refused to become accustomed to life without a finger.
As soon as he was able to, Macduff started cutting into a pair of bicycle handle bars in his garage. Eight hours later, he emerged with the prototype of his bio-mechanical finger prosthetic.
The former Navy man, who did three tours in the Gulf, had been unemployed before his accident. Macduff said his idea of designing the finger was a retraining of his earlier design education, as well as a way of coping with his amputation.
“It was very therapeutic for me,” Macduff said.
The finger has three parts. Using leftover parts from the bicycle shop, Macduff created the ring where the prosthetic sits on the amputation, and the cage which goes over and protects the amputated digit. He used a bike’s rear derailleur hanger for the tip, which simulates a normal finger tip.
Nearly four years later, Macduff’s prosthetic finger design is available for other finger amputees. His former employer saw his design was worth patenting and helped guide him through the process of getting a provisional patent in 2012.
Macduff’s company, RCM Enterprise, makes use of a manufacturer with 3D printing to create full, partial, and thumb prosthetics which evolved from metal bicycle parts to medical grade plastic.
“I’ve got about seven fingers out there,” Macduff said.
The process takes 10 to 12 weeks, beginning with patients placing their hands on a copy machine and sending the scans to Macduff to work with. “Each finger is customized to each amputation,” Macduff said. “Even if they don’t have insurance, we’ll work with them and set up a payment plan.”
The prices range from $5,500 for a partial finger to $9,500 for a thumb.
“When an amputee loses their finger, they’re going through an extreme emotional loss,” Macduff said. “This is giving people hope back, functionality. We’re putting people back to work.”
Macduff is now working on a design that will allow amputees to use his prosthetic on touch screens.
Unemployment is no longer a concern for Macduff who runs his company with his wife.
“I’m hoping this year to get back into riding and have a little more of a life. All the hard work is done,” he said.