CUT lends an ear

2017-02-22 06:00
Tylor Baker

Tylor Baker

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The Central University of Technology’s (CUT) technological ability in the medical field has helped to change the life of a young man from Cape Town, Tylor Baker, who was born without ear canals.

The university, through its Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM), made it possible by designing, manufacturing and accurately placing the prosthetic implants and external prostheses to complete Baker’s facial features.

This surgery is a collaborative effort between the university’s CRPM and a team of specialists from the world renowned Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

Dan Maritz, CUT spokesperson, said the Groote Schuur ear, nose and throat surgeon Estie Meyer and her team of audiologists, nurses, and doctors performed the procedure.

He said the university’s CRPM team played a vital role in the reconstructive surgery through the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology, also known as 3D printing. He said the CRPM team printed a model of Baker’s skull and ear to enable the team of doctors to carry out pre-operative planning and simulate surgery.

According to Maritz, it took Prof. Cules van den Heever, CUT extraordinary professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, about 30 minutes to attach the new ear.

“Born without ear canals, Baker had a 60% hearing ability, which made it difficult for him to communicate. He was the first person to undergo such a procedure at the Groote Schuur Hospital,” said Maritz.

He said the prosthetic ear and surgery were sponsored by the Fuchs Foundation at the cost of R62 000.

According to Maritz, about one in 10 000 people are born with this condition known as microtia, a congenital deformity where the pinna (external ear) is underdeveloped.

“The innovative surgery took Baker from a world where he was only one of about 10 000 people in the world born with this condition to one where he could finally hear audibly for the first time. So, history was made at Groote Schuur when the team of specialists gave Baker a new ear and so far his progress has been excellent,” he said.

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