Thursday, February 26, 2009

Double amputee fitted for mermaid tail


AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- A New Zealand double amputee never expected a response when she sent a note to a special effects company asking if they would create a mermaid tail to help her swim. Two years later, her dream came true.

Nadya Vessey, (pictured) who lost both her legs to an illness during her childhood, sent an e-mail to the Weta Workshop prosthetics department.

Weta is best known for their special effects work in the "Lord of the Rings" series, and the 2005 remake of "King Kong."

"We have, over the years, done a number of things like this for people that have disabilities," a member of the Weta prosthetics department said.

Over the next two years, Weta staff members worked on Vessey's tail in their spare time. They covered a tail in a wetsuit fabric and added digitally-printed fish scales on it. The tail has four sections that allow some movement.

"A prosthetic is a prosthetic and your body has to be comfortable with it," Vessey said. "I'm still getting to know it because it requires you to swim in a different sort of a way."

Weta has made mermaid's tails before for the movie "Peter Pan." But they were simpler than Vesey's tail because the costume wearer had movement through the ankles.

The company said they have no plans to make mermaid tails for other amputees, but said the experience and insight they gained on Vessey's tail was well worth it.