3D printing helps doctors give badly burned boy a new nose

When Dalan, a teenage boy from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, was 9 years old, he had a tragic accident that changed his life forever. He fell onto a live power line, severely burning his entire face. His injuries were so extensive, he was left without a nose.

Now, at the age of 15, Dalan is getting a second chance at a normal life after doctors at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai came up with a way to rebuild his nose using cutting edge medical technology.

“He basically stopped going to school and was completely isolated,” the lead surgeon, Dr. Tal Dagan, told CBS News. “And that’s something that I connected with. And said, I think we’re going to try to pull this off.”

Dagan came up with an idea to use 3D printing technology to design and build a new nose specially designed for the boy. After Dalan underwent a preliminary surgery in the Marshall Islands to expand the remaining skin around his nose, he came to New York where Dagan and his team were able to implant the new 3D model.

Surgeons also used lasers to helped convert scar tissue so it could be used to line the inside of the nose, restoring Dalan’s sense of smell.

“This is complete science fiction,” Dagan said. “You’re getting a completely new type of technology.”

Dalan’s doctors say the 3D printing was so successful, they’ll likely use it for more reconstructive facial surgeries, especially for soldiers returning home from war.

Doctors were also able to correct Dalan’s vision, which went from near legal blindness to 20/20.

Two months after surgery, he is almost ready to go back to school with restored confidence and a new love for American food. “I like to smell everything,” he said. His favorite? “Pizza,” he said. “Pepperoni.”