Johaan Kaa with children Syra-Maree, 11, Staycee, 9, and Monique, 7, and his new Taska bionic hand. Picture: Regi Varghese
Johaan Kaa with children Syra-Maree, 11, Staycee, 9, and Monique, 7, and his new Taska bionic hand. Picture: Regi Varghese

Amputee dad fulfils promise to ‘hold kids hands again’

JOHAAN Kaa is a father who keeps his promises.

Twelve months ago, the 55-year-old quadruple amputee vowed to his three young children that one day, he would hold their hands again.

The Alexandra Hills dad not only fulfilled his promise, but he also became first person in Australia to be fitted with a new myoelectric hand.

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"I couldn't believe it, for it to fire up as soon as I put it on, it was surreal," Mr Kaa said.

 

Johaan Kaa was the first person in Australia to be fitted with the Taska bionic hand. Born in New Zealand, Mr Kaa said it was just the right colour too. Picture: Regi Varghese
Johaan Kaa was the first person in Australia to be fitted with the Taska bionic hand. Born in New Zealand, Mr Kaa said it was just the right colour too. Picture: Regi Varghese

 

"My wife wants me to help out with the dishes now."

In 2014, Mr Kaa lost his hands and feet after being struck with meningococcal septicaemia and told by doctors he wouldn't survive another 48 hours.

 

Johaan Kaa first thought it was a case of ‘man flu’ but quickly realised it was much more serious.
Johaan Kaa first thought it was a case of ‘man flu’ but quickly realised it was much more serious.

 

Mr Kaa set about proving them wrong and, determined to hold his wife Pip and his children Syra, 11, Staycee, 9, and Monique, 7, again, he started fundraising for a bionic hand.

 

Johaan Kaa had to have his hands and feet amputated after contracting the deadly meningococcal disease.
Johaan Kaa had to have his hands and feet amputated after contracting the deadly meningococcal disease.

 

The local community passed the hat around for Mr Kaa and after five years he was able to fund the prosthetic and once again walk with his children hand-in-hand to school.

Orthopaedic surgeon Nick Hartnell, from Bowral in NSW, fitted Mr Kaa with the Taska prosthesis, the first waterproof bionic hand in the world.

 

Wynnum charity The Koha Shed’s Mike Iafeta helped Johaan Kaa fundraise for the bionic hand. Picture: Renae Droop
Wynnum charity The Koha Shed’s Mike Iafeta helped Johaan Kaa fundraise for the bionic hand. Picture: Renae Droop

 

Developed by the New Zealand company and manufactured in Christchurch, Dr Hartnell said the technology works by "picking up the senses in the muscles".

"So when Johaan thinks about opening his hands, the muscles will fire," he said.

Five more people in Australia have now been fitted with the hand and the technology has since hit the market in the United States and Germany.

 

Johaan Kaa took part in the Bridge to Brisbane in 2016. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Johaan Kaa took part in the Bridge to Brisbane in 2016. Picture: Liam Kidston.

 

Dr Hartnell said Taska's bionic technology was the closest replica of a natural hand on the market.

"It's robust, it's intuitive and waterproof," he said.

"You can use a drill and then you could hold an egg and make an omelette. At the moment there's nothing on the market that can beat it."

Back at his home in the Redlands, Mr Kaa said he was now trying to adjust to life with a right hand again.

 

Johaan Kaa with wife Phillipa and his three children. Picture: Regi Varghese
Johaan Kaa with wife Phillipa and his three children. Picture: Regi Varghese

 

"Being without hands for almost five years I'm still getting used to having one again," he said.

"In that respect there's lot to learn and unlearn. It's like being a child and learning how to drink out of a cup. But I know over time it's going to get easier."

 

Johaan just wants to hold his children’s hands again. #TTNY, tonight 8.40pm.

Posted by This Time Next Year Australia on Sunday, 1 September 2019

 

His story, which this week featured on Channel 9's This Time Next Year, touched many hearts - as did Mr Kaa's fierce determination.

"If you don't like where you are in life, you have to change it," Mr Kaa said.

"There's no excuse. You can either curl up in a ball or get on with life."



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