A teenager gets a second chance of having a normal life through the help of three-dimensional printing technology. When Dalan Jennet was just nine years old, he tripped on a live power line in an accident that left his face severely burned. He lost most of his nose because of the extensive injuries.
Six years later, ingenious doctors at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai came up with a plan to rebuild his nose through revolutionary 3D facial reconstructive technology. Jennet and his family reside in the Marshall Islands, where the cutting-edge surgical care isn’t present yet.
Through the help of Marshall Islands’ Ministry of Health and Micronesian charities Canvasback Missions and Mentor Worldwide, Jennet’s family was contacted by surgeons Tal Dagan and Grigoriy Mashevich from the hospital’s Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The experts were assisted by Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), a recognized leader in the creation of neurological and orthopedic 3D implants. The team considered Jennet’s cultural heritage in order to come up with a natural-looking nose that resembled his family members’ features. The experts wanted to give him a nose that looked like his previous one.
While the team generously shouldered Jennet’s surgeries and flights, the family still put up a GoFundMe page for other costs not covered during the boy’s stay in the U.S. It was in June 2015 when he was first flown to New York to have the surgeries that would restore his senses of taste and smell.
His first surgery took 16 hours. The physicians studied Jennet’s blood vessels to assess if his skin was healthy enough to undergo reconstruction. Four surgeries later, Jennet welcomed his new functional nose. The nose is permanent and doesn’t need to be altered as Jennet grows up. It was the first time for US doctors to rebuild a functional nose using 3D technology. Apart from his nose, the doctors were able to restore Jennet’s eyesight, which was also affected by the accident.
Lead surgeon Dagan told CBS News that he was inspired to help Jennet because of the isolation the boy felt following the accident.
“He basically stopped going to school and was completely isolated. And that’s something that I connected with. And said, I think we’re going to try to pull this off.”
Jennet’s doctors believe that the 3D printing is a huge game changer because it’s a less traumatic form of reconstructive facial surgery. The team looks forward to using the technology, especially for soldiers who have been disfigured because of wars. Through the hospital’s blog, Dagan explained the procedure’s difference from a standard nose implant.
“The procedure is akin to a ‘nose transplant’ in that we were able to replace the nose with a functional implant. This procedure may be a breakthrough in facial reconstruction because the patient will never have to deal with the standard issues of transplantation, such as tissue rejection or a lifetime of immunosuppressive therapies.”
Scott DeFelice, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of OPM, previously said that receiving clearance for 3D implants “marks a new era in the standard of care for facial reconstruction.”
[Image via GoFundMe]
“Until now, a technology did not exist that could treat the highly complex anatomy of these demanding cases. With the clearance of our 3D printed facial device, we now have the ability to treat these extremely complex cases in a highly effective and economical way.”