Sep 14, 2017 | By Benedict

Francesca Burr, a British artist and model, has had part of her skull rebuilt with a 3D printer after suffering a horrific injury that left her with a hole in the head. The then 27-year-old suffered memory loss, even forgetting her own middle name.

Francesca Burr, 28, suffered a horrific accident 10 months ago

You can make a lot of things with a 3D printer, but part of a person’s head is one of the rarer things squeezed out of an additive manufacturing machine. Francesca Burr isn’t complaining about that though, having had her life saved by doctors using 3D printing tech.

Ten months ago, Burr fell down the stairs at home after suffering a seizure caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), a rare inherited condition that affects connective tissue. She fractured her skull in five places, cracked her jaw, and broke her nose.

Her mother and stepfather came home to the grim scene, with their dog barking like mad and blood everywhere.

The British model now has a 3D printed titanium plate in her head

At first, her mother couldn’t open the door because Burr was laying in front of it, but recognizing the severity of the incident, the concerned parent quickly phoned for emergency help.

Doctors arrived quickly and airlifted Burr away in a helicopter, but warned the family that there was little hope. Shortly after Burr was brought to the hospital, surgeons performed a seven-hour operation on her head, scraping out bits of skull that had fallen into her brain.

The patient then lay in an induced coma at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, for nearly a month, because doctors deduced that the patient had suffered brain damage.

“Before the operation I looked like a cartoon character because my head was so swollen,” Burr told the Mirror, a British newspaper. “So they shaved my head and peeled back my skin to take out all the broken skull. What was left was a massive hole in my head.”

Burr was in an induced coma for a month

Amazingly, Burr did eventually wake up after the coma. But when she did, she had forgotten lots of important things: her middle name, the fact her parents had divorced 10 years prior, and even the identify of a man she had just started dating.

“In the months afterwards I really struggled thinking of the right words for things, even though I've always been academic and confident in that area,” Burr recalled. “It's like suddenly you realize you're no longer built the way you were born.”

And Burr now really is different from the way she was born, having been fitted with an incredible 3D printed titanium plate in her skull.

Burr, a model and artist, before the accident

“They got a 3D printer to create a titanium plate to fit in my head,” Burr said. “I mean, that's some real James Bond s***. I was amazed when they told me that. I actually met the neurosurgeon who did a few weeks ago and he shook my hand.”

Although Burr’s brain is now held together with metal pins, limiting what she can do from day to day, the 3D printed titanium plate in her skull has basically saved her life.

Of course, the patient still has a few regrets about what she has lost since the accident—memories, bits of her personality, even basic skills.

“Even now people tell me I am different to how I was before,” she said. “I don't remember, which is convenient I suppose, but it's also sad to think about what my family and friends have gone through.”

Happier times

In fact, Burr is refreshingly honest about how life-saving surgery isn’t actually the fairytale ending it’s sometimes cracked up to be.

"I was a high-achieving, ambitious person, and now I'm a 28-year-old with no work or social life, living in Halford with my mum,” she said. “I'm so isolated and can only leave the house if I'm not too dizzy. I also go to the doctors twice a week and can't drive so I'm very dependent.”

Hopefully, Burr will eventually get back to work and retain some of her former independence. Until then, we wish her the speediest of recoveries.

Earlier this year, a hospital in Swansea, Wales, became the first British hospital to appoint a dedicated 3D printing technician.



Posted in 3D Printing Application


Source: Mirror

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