Israeli doctors rebuild Syrian man’s face using 3D printer

He arrived barely alive, after a projectile destroyed the lower part of his face. Three months after surgery, Mohammed is preparing to return home to Syria.

By Haaretz | Feb. 18, 2015 | 5:20 AM

Doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital have rebuilt the face of a young Syrian man using a ground-breaking technique in which new bones are created using a 3D laser printer, the BBC reports.

Mohammed – his last name was withheld by the BBC to protect his identity – is a farmer from Deraa in south-western Syria. He was unconscious and barely alive when he arrived at Rambam in early November, after a projectile destroyed the lower part of his face.

He was operated on by maxillofacial surgeon Dr Yoav Leiser, who recently returned from a fellowship in Germany where he studied the emerging field of Patient Specific Implants (PSIs.)

The first such transplant was performed in the Netherlands in 2011, but it had never before been done in Israel.

Mohammed’s face was reconstructed using a titanium lower jaw created by a 3D laser printer, which heats and fuses titanium powder, one layer at a time. The doctors used cranial measurements to estimate the size of his missing bones.

Now, three months later, Mohammed is able to talk and is preparing to return home to Syria. He has only praise for the doctors who saved him.

He told the BBC that he was planning to return to Haifa in six months to have new teeth implanted, which would enable him to eat solid food and complete his rehabilitation.

Some 1,500 casualties of the Syrian civil war have been treated in Israel so far, about 20% of them at Rambam, according to local officials.

Most are left on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border fence and transported to hospital by the Israel Defense Forces. While Israeli authorities do not provide details about how the process works, “it is clear that a degree of co-ordination now surrounds both the arrival of the wounded and their eventual return after treatment,” according to the BBC.

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