Ellie May, At 5 Years Old, Is The Youngest Person Ever To Have Carbon Fiber Legs

Ellie May Challis was born in Essex, England in 2004. She has a twin sister, Sophie and older siblings Tai-la, nine, and Connor, eleven. When Ellie was just 16 months old, she was struck down with a near fatal case of meningitis. Although she beat the odds and survived the deadly bug, septicemia caused her little body to shut down and mere weeks later Ellie had to have her legs and arms amputated. Despite her disability, Ellie was able to walk into her first day at school on her own in her new carbon fiber prosthetic legs.

Ellie May

Ellie May

Ellie was originally fitted with standard prosthetic legs, but was having a difficult time keeping up with her siblings and other children her age. Her original legs also never fit quite right, causing her pain and making it difficult to walk. Ellie’s community however, who have fallen in love with the little tot, held a fundraiser and raised enough money for new carbon fiber prosthetic legs, the same legs used by Paralympic sprinters, making Ellie the youngest person ever to have carbon fiber legs. Ellie new legs cost $15,000 and were made by the renowned prosthetic center and their team of specialists, Dorset Orthopaedic.

Ellie May carbon fiber legs

There are several advantages to manufacturing prosthetic legs out of carbon fiber and not fiberglass or Kevlar. For starters, carbon fiber is much more lightweight and is able to be made into very thin sheets over the prosthetic socket. Carbon fiber is also extremely strong. A major disadvantage, however, is that carbon fiber, when bent to a great extent, can break and this is something that engineers of prosthetic limbs have been working to overcome.

For Ellie though, she loves her new limbs, which will have to be replaced every two years as she continues to grow. The director at Dorset Orthopaedic said that they “were worried that she wouldn’t be able to balance properly on them, but she has made amazing progress. Within seconds of having them on, she was off. It will change her life.” Ellie’s parents are also extremely pleased with the results; her father declared that “Ellie can walk twice as fast on these new legs. She is so full of determination.”

A few months ago, Ellie met with Olympian hopeful Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius. Oscar and Ellie both have the Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetic limbs and knowing this, they decided to challenge each other to a few races. Oscar, who is from South Africa, has been hailed the fastest man with no legs and holds many world records, but he seemed to have underestimated Ellie. Just mere weeks after learning to walk with her new carbon fiber prosthetic legs, Ellie was able to beat Oscar in all four of their 15-meter races!

Ellie May carbon fiber legs

Here’s a video of Ellie learning to walk on the new carbon fiber legs:

[source: Gizmodo]

  • RJ.MidkinVII

    Clearly, Carbon Fiber solves all the worlds problems.

  • Ryan Sgt

    Im honestly not sure how to respond to this.. Im a fully grown man, and cryed watching this little girl learn to walk again because of people who care to make a change in others lives, and give what most take for granted. The smile at the end of the video that came from the little girls face, is un-obtainable from most who have everything they have ever wanted. God bless you ellie may.

  • Brad Ford

    You have to be touched by the story of Mary being able to walk again. These people who take the time patience and forethought to help people like Mary are heros, having this product is awesome, I think you are just wonderfull you should be proud of yourselves

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  • Maggie

    Pretty soon, we might make better prothestics. Perhaps if we could combine it with cybernetics. :D

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  • Andy J

    As a result of a motor cycle accident I am considering having removed a repaired (but too damaged to ever live without pain) lower leg. I look at these newer legs and actually have the hope that I might be able to run again one day, When I look at this little girl however, my own issues shrink away and I am awed by her bravery as well as the adversity she has lived through. What an amazing kid. And kudos to the people who are bring kids like this into the “normal” world of kids, playgrounds, running around and enjoying life.

  • Dan

    Beautiful story truly inspiring to think this young girl can climb such huge obstacles in stride

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