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3D printed faces created by artist Heather Dewey"Stranger Visions" by Heather Dewey

3D printing creates a new face for war victim

A Somali woman waited 23 years for life-changing reconstructive surgery

Turns out 3D printing can do more than just insta-print guns, couture dresses and miniature models of Sad Keanu. In Ayan Mohamed’s case, the advancing technology helped to create her new face.

When Mohamed was two years old, a stray bullet shattered her face as her family were fleeing the Somali civil war. Most of the tissue from her bottom eye socket, her whole top jaw and most of her cheekbone and palate was blasted away. Miraculously, she survived, but was left a devastating facial disfigurement that, due to its severity and her geographical location, could not be treated by traditional reconstructive surgery. For 23 years, she couldn’t close her right eye and she wore a niqab to hide her face. A pre-surgery charity appeal here shows the extent of her injury.

Using a patented 3D printing technology called OsteoFab, biomedical company Oxford Performance Material constructed a prosthetic implant specifically tailored for Mohamed’s face. Over 11 hours, a team of 20 medical and surgical volunteers reconstructed Mohamed’s face. 

Words probably can't describe what this surgery means to "Bionic", as friends have now affectionately dubbed her, but the absence of her niqab speaks volumes for her newfound confidence. Mohamed is now learning English in the hope of one day becoming a doctor.