Durban university makes boy’s dreams come true

2010-11-18 12:58

A six-year-old boy will no longer cover his face in embarrassment every time he goes out of the house, thanks to a prosthesis specialist from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), who created an artificial nose for him.

Riaan Terblanche of Bethlehem in the Free State was all smiles today when he left the DUT with a finely constructed artificial nose.

The young boy lost part of his nasal septum and the base of his nose when he was burnt by the tube supplying oxygen to his lungs after he was born.

Since then, he has had to cover his nose every time he left his house because other children laughed at him.

Terblanche simply smiled when reporters asked him to say how he felt about his new look.

His father, also named Riaan, said: “He is very happy. He told me he liked it.”

Isabel Terblanche, the boy’s grandmother, could not contain her excitement.

“I would like to thank all the people who have been involved. We are very happy,” she said with tears running down her face.

Peter Furber, who has helped many people with artificial prosthetic eyes and ears, said he heard about Terblanche’s plight through a Free State surgeon.

“They sent me pictures and we decided to help him because he can’t undergo surgery now because of his age,” he said.

Furber said he began the marathon construction of the artificial nose on Monday and it was completed yesterday afternoon.

A cast was created from the wax nose that was used to manufacture a silicone prosthesis.

Describing how it was done, Furber said the prosthesis was fixed on to the face using specialised adhesive. “The prosthesis has to be removed and cleaned on a daily basis. It will also have to be replaced after 18 months,” he said.

The prosthesis manufacturing cost was R10 000, but the Terblanches were only charged R200, which was used to buy the adhesive.

Grant Somers, the head of dental sciences, said the service was not always free.

“What we do is mainly funded by donors and we are battling with funds. Most of the people who approach us are underprivileged,” he said.

Furber said the DUT did not have a course that trained people to do what Furber did.

“It (constructing artificial ears and noses) has no commercial viability. I just ask students to help when I am doing it,” said Furber.

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