Dallan Jennet, a 14-year-old boy, has become the first person to receive a 3D printed nose transplant in the US.
Human nose reconstruction is a fairly common practice, but this is the first time US doctors were able to produce the body part in a way that made it fully functional.
Jennet, who is from the Marshall Islands, suffered a face disfiguration after falling from a power line when he was 9 years old. Earlier this year he received several surgeries to improve his sense of taste and smell at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Siani, in New York City.
Tal Dagan, an associate adjunct surgeon on the project, said in a Mount Sinai blog post, "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," he said.
Jennet flew to the US for his most recent therapies, though he underwent his first procedure in the Marshall Islands in early 2015. Doctors implanted expanders under the skin of his nose that remained, to prepare space for the 3D printed nose.
The surgeries were made possible by Benicia, a Canvasback Missions Inc. nonprofit based in California. The organization is known for making health care and health education available in the Pacific Islands. They paid for Jennet’s medical expenses, and for him and his mother to travel to New York for surgeries.
The surgeries conducted in the US were made possible when Dagan and Dr Grigoriy Mashkevich, assistant professor of Otolaryngology, Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Mount Sinai, in collaboration with Oxford Performance Materials Inc, a 3D printing company based in Windsor, Connecticut.
They were able to develop a unique 3D nose graft for Jennet based on the structure of his family’s noses.
The first operation in New York took 16-hours to complete, during which the doctors used a laser-based technology to perform skin analysis.
The next step involved harvesting tissues and blood vessels from Jennet’s thigh as well as reducing scar tissue before inserting the graft and reconstructed skin with the 3D implant. Four additional surgeries followed, and Jennet had several follow-up appointments throughout June and October.
All the surgeries resulted in a successful transplant. The doctors say he won’t require more reconstructive procedures in the future — the 3D-printed implant will grow as he grows.
“We believe that this procedure will allow the patient to live a happy and productive life,” said Dr. Mashkevich. “We also hope that this approach will be a viable option for others with severe facial deformities who require reconstructive surgery.”
Image Credits: Geek