Doctors have successfully implanted a 3D-printed nose onto a person for the first time in the U.S., according to New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, which wrote about the surgery on its blog Monday.
When Dallan Jennet was just 9 years old, he fell on a live power line near his home in the Marshall Islands that burned his entire face.
The accident left the boy with severe facial scarring and a hole for a nose.
Dallan spent the next five years in self-imposed isolation. He even quit school because he didn’t want anyone to stare at his face.
That was until Dr. Tal Dagan, 44, the associate adjunct surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai, heard about Dallan's case during an August 2014 trip to the Marshall Islands organized by Canvasback Missions, a nonprofit that brings health care and education to the Pacific Islands.
Dagan was intrigued by the boy’s case. Once he finally met Dallan, he knew he had to build him a new nose.
“He was depressed, just sitting there on a rock and staring at the ground,” Dagan told The New York Daily News last month. “He didn’t want to look up at me.”
In June, after a preliminary surgery to expand the remaining skin around where his nose used to be, Dallan arrived in New York City, where Dagan and a team from Oxford Performance Materials created a 3D-printed facial device that would look and function like a real nose.
In order to create a natural-looking nose, the team used sample models based on the noses of Dallan's family members. According to the New York Daily News, they then used donor cartilage to build a nose that resembled the family models and used tissue from the teen’s forehead to create the outside of the nose.
"This is complete science fiction," Dagan told CBS last month. "You're getting a completely new type of technology.”
Dallan's procedure went so well that doctors reportedly hope to use the same technique on soldiers returning from war who need facial reconstruction surgery.
Meanwhile, Dallan, now 15, already seems to be thriving.
"I like to smell everything," he told CBS, adding that his favorite thing to smell is pepperoni pizza.
He's finally ready to go back to school, Dagan told the Daily News, and “he even has a girlfriend."
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