Real-life Superhero

A local award-winning prosthetics company creating affordable, advanced and stylish bionic limbs recently hit Hollywood’s red carpet when 12-year-old bionic boy Chase Merriweather showcased his Hero Arms at the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever World Premiere…

Bristol-based robotics company, Open Bionics, has teamed up with Disney to create a Hollywood moment for 12-year-old bionic boy Chase Merriweather.

Since its inception in 2014, Open Bionics has been turning disabilities into superpowers as founders Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne made it their mission to develop affordable, assistive devices that enhance the human body. Today, the company is known globally for using 3D printing and 3D scanning, along with clever software and design, to make advanced, affordable and accessible bionic limbs.

This winter, it was revealed that Open Bionics had teamed up with Disney to create a Hollywood moment for 12-year-old bionic boy Chase Merriweather Chase was only four-years-old when he lost all four limbs to sepsis. His parents, Chad and Chisa Merriweather, suffered through every parent’s worst nightmare when Chase was taken into hospital and started the fight for his life.

Eight years later, Chase has just received two bionic arms. Not only are these Chase’s first pair of arms since his amputations, these are state of the art 3D printed bionic arms created by Open Bionics.

I got to meet my all-time heroes on the carpet and that was a dream come true

Chase is the first person in the world to wear the newly launched Black Panther design Hero Arms. Working with the Marvel and Disney teams, Open Bionics was able to bring Chase to the World Premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Hollywood for a once in a lifetime experience. The film is the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther, which starred the late Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a country with incredibly advanced technology.

Open Bionics spotted Chase’s videos about his prosthetic online and worked closely with Disney to surprise him with an invitation to go to Los Angeles and meet the cast and crew on the purple carpet. Chase said: “The surprise was so incredible because Black Panther is one of my favourite Marvel movies.”

Chase’s father, Chad, said: “I was full of emotions. I have always known Chase to have a very vibrant personality and opportunities like this one warm my heart. Black Panther’s story means a lot to people and Disney has done a great job in uplifting the community.”

According to Chad, the surprise of seeing his son now having two bionic arms was immense in itself: “There was just natural joy and recognition that now he will be able to do dual-handed tasks. I know people look at Chase as an inspiration. And while he was in complete awe when meeting the cast, to see those actors tell my son that he is also an inspiration just for being who he is… we were at a loss of words.” Chase added: “I got to meet my all-time heroes on the carpet and that was a dream come true.”

Open Bionics co-founder Samantha Payne stated: “This was an incredible moment for Chase. He has been an active Hero Arm community member for around a year and we loved seeing his posts online. Our team has been following him for a while so of course it made sense that he should be the first to get the Black Panther covers. He’s extremely athletic, confident, and just a cool dude. We’re thrilled that the team at Marvel and Disney invited us to join them at the Wakanda Forever world premiere. It’s a night we’ll all never forget.” | Images courtesy of Open Bionics