When Alicia Taylor was pregnant with twins, she couldn’t wait for the ultrasound that would reveal their little faces. That ultrasound, however, revealed something shocking.
One of the twins had a facial deformity. This rare defect, known as a Tessier facial cleft, occurs when facial bones do not fuse together in the womb.
Little Violet Pietrok was born with a hole in the center of her face and no nasal cartilage. As a result, these areas appeared wider than normal, and doctors weren’t sure if she would ever be all right.
For a while, Violet’s parents scrambled to find someone to help their little girl. Then they found Dr. Meara at Boston Children’s Hospital, who had an innovative idea.
At 2 years old, Violet underwent her first major surgery to reconstruct her face. Amazingly, new technology was at the forefront of the operating room.
According to ABC7, surgeons “used a 3D printer to create models of Violet’s skull over time.” The models were even brought into the operating room so that doctors could refer to them while operating.
“During the lengthy surgery lasting over six hours, doctors ran into a few complications along the way. But with the help of the 3D models, they were able to find a solution,” ABC7 reported.
As ABC7 explained, the 3D models allowed Dr. Meara to modify his plans on the spot. “I actually modified my osteotomies (bone cuts) based on something that I was able to see happening in the model,” he said.
The power of the 3D printer to help others cannot be denied. This innovative technology saves time, money, and lives.
As The New York Times explained, “Dr. Meara had received printed models of other patients’ skulls before, but only after waiting weeks or months for a single replica, at a cost of thousands of dollars. [The 3D] printer generated four identical copies in a few days, each costing about $1,200 and accurate to within a hair’s width.”
The surgery now behind her, Violet is doing better than ever. Thanks to her surgeons and the great technology that aided them, Violet can now smile and laugh.
She’s up to what every other child her age is up to. “She’s so happy … all the time,” said her mother. “If she’s not smiling, she’s generally asleep or throwing a fit.”
Her mother has an informative and inclusive attitude about how to deal with the public when people are arrested by her daughter’s unique looks, especially other children who might stare or ask questions.
“It would be far better if they introduce themselves and say, ‘Hi, I’m so-and-so, I wondered if you can explain to [my kids] what happened,'” she said.
She will no doubt be able to be an ambassador for parents everywhere who will have similar experiences.
And, while more surgeries are likely in her future, Violet is happy and healthy. God bless little Violet and the doctors who worked so hard for her!
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