Doctors have for the first time successfully transplanted a 3D printed ear made from a patient’s own cells
A 20-year-old woman has reportedly become the first patient to undergo a successful ear transplant using a technology called 3D printing that uses a person’s own cells to grow the implant.
According to the New York Times report, Alexa, a Mexican woman who was only known as Alexa, was born with an uncommon birth defect. This caused her outer right ear to shrink and become misshapen.
Dr. Arturo Bonilla, a pediatric ear reconstructive surgeon in San Antonio, Texas who performed the operation, began by removing half a gram of cartilage from Alexa’s ear and making a 3D scan of her healthy left ear, the Times wrote. The material was sent to 3DBio Therapeutics (a New York-based company that specializes on regenerative medicine),
3DBio used the tissue sample to grow billions of cells that were then mixed with the company’s collagen-based ink, which was inserted into a specialized 3D bio-printer to create a mirror replica of the patient’s healthy ear. According to reports, the entire process took just 10 minutes.
The printed ear was then shipped overnight in cold storage to Dr. Bonilla, who implanted the ear under Alexa’s skin, just above her jawbone. 3DBio claims that the operation was performed in March. The ear continues to grow cartilage tissue and will eventually look natural.
Alexa has stated that even though her ear is still developing, she’s excited about it. Alexa stated that her ears were not an issue when she was young, however she became more conscious of her appearance as she got older.
When you are a teenager, your image is more important to you. Some people said things that were not thoughtful, and it started bothering me,”She said that her hair is now long enough to cover her right ear.
Alexa said that she believes her self-esteem will rise after the procedure and is looking forward to having her hair styled in either a ponytail, or a braid.
The results of Alexa’s reconstructive surgery were announced by 3DBio in a news release on its website. 3DBio is currently participating in a clinical trial that will evaluate the efficacy of this technology.
There are 11 participants in the trial, but it is possible that transplants will fail or create unanticipated problems. The cells that are used to print the tissues come from patients, so doctors and 3DBio personnel say the chances of rejection are low.
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