Woman, 47, who lost all four limbs to deadly blood infection returns to school with robotic arms


The bionic teacher: Woman, 47, who lost all four limbs to deadly blood infection returns to school with robotic arms

  • Kath Tregenna, 47, developed sepsis symptoms in 2019 and called 111 for help
  • She suffered between seven and 11 cardiac arrests after getting sepsis
  • She teaches primary school pupils at the International School of London 


A primary school teacher who lost all four limbs to sepsis has returned to the classroom having been fitted with bionic arms.

When Kath Tregenna, 47, developed a fever a couple of years ago she called the NHS 111 number for help.

Her call handler then noticed she had described symptoms of sepsis and sent an ambulance.

After arriving at hospital Mrs Tregenna suffered between seven and 11 cardiac arrests.

In a bid to prevent the spread of the sepsis, doctors later amputated both of her legs below the knee and both arms below the elbow.

Class act: Kath Tregenna at the International School of London

Class act: Kath Tregenna at the International School of London

The mother of two had been teaching primary school pupils at the International School of London, in the west of the capital, when she developed the infection in late 2019.

Mrs Tregenna, from London, resolved to return to the classroom despite her ordeal – she was prescribed prosthetic arm hooks but later fundraised enough money for Hero Arms from UK tech company, Open Bionics.

‘As I was going through my recovery, I really knew in my heart that I wanted to get back into the classroom and get back to teaching,’ she said.

‘I always had this dream of being able to go back to teaching and I just knew I couldn’t do that with these heavy hooks.’

The Hero Arms were created using 3D printing and scanners. They use myoelectric sensors which detect muscle movements in the limb and turn them into hand movements.

Mrs Tregenna has been fitted with two bionic arms and also has two prosthetic legs. Now back in the classroom part-time, she has been amazed at the response from the children.

Story time: Mrs Tregenna sorts out books for her pupils

Story time: Mrs Tregenna sorts out books for her pupils

She said: ‘It’s all thanks to arms I am able to teach again. From writing on the school board to carrying books, children are obsessed with the Hero Arms and always ask me to show how they work.

‘From the moment I arrive at school, I’m using the arms to do all sorts of tasks.’

The Daily Mail launched the End the Sepsis Scandal campaign with the UK Sepsis Trust in 2016 to raise awareness of symptoms among patients and staff.

Discussing her initial sepsis diagnosis, the teacher said she caught what she thought was common sickness but didn’t realise her symptoms were potentially fatal.

Mrs Tregenna said: ‘I owe my life to the 111 operator who noticed some of the symptoms of sepsis and called an ambulance.’

Listen up! Writing on a board with a bionic arm

Listen up! Writing on a board with a bionic arm

She added: ‘Going out wearing the arms actually makes me feel very, very confident. They just enable me to carry out a range of classroom activities.’

Samantha Payne, co-founder of Open Bionics, said: ‘Kath is incredible. Our entire team is in awe of Kath’s determination to get back to doing what she loves most – teaching.

‘Seeing her using both of her Hero Arms for everyday things really puts into perspective how important bionic technology can be when it comes to giving people recovering from life-changing surgeries a level of independence to achieve their goals.’

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