A NINE year old girl from Lanarkshire is celebrating receiving an early Christmas present in the form of a brand new ear.
Anya Storie, from Wishaw in South Lanarkshire, was born with microtia, meaning the outer part of her left ear is not fully developed and she has some degree of hearing loss on that side.
However, thanks to the pioneering use of 3D printing technology and the support of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation charity, she is about to get the Christmas present of her dreams.
Plastic Surgeon Ken Stewart will perform innovative surgery on Anya in December which involves creating an entirely new left ear using cartilage from her ribcage.
The 3D printer, which was funded thanks to a £32,000 donation from the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, helps to aid the surgeon in developing and sculpting as accurate an ear as possible by providing an exact replica of her right ear.
Ken Stewart said: “It’s a lovely, special thing to do, and it’s a great artistic endeavour.
“We use a 3D scanner and printer to aid the construction of the new ear and this is not something which is commonly used in this procedure. This in itself has made such a big difference to the accuracy of the new ear.
“The smiles on the patients’ and families’ faces are amazing and I am delighted to be able to offer such a life-changing procedure to this little girl, especially in time for Christmas.
“It will drastically improve her quality of life in terms of self-confidence in her appearance, and also in enhancing her hearing.”
The team are also able to offer implantable hearing aids to restore hearing on the affected side. This possibility is discussed and offered to all patients.
Anya said: “I’m really excited about getting a new ear and it will make me really happy.
“I usually ignore it when people at my school make comments but I’m so glad to be getting my new ear – it is so exciting and I can’t wait.”
Aurea, Anya’s mum, said: “We have known Ken Stewart for many years and have been aware of the different surgery options available to Anya.
“We decided at an early age that we’d wait and see what technology develops before deciding what we should do and what would be best for her.
“Reforming an ear is an extremely difficult procedure but the chance to do it now, using the 3D scanner and printer, seems like the right time.
“We are delighted, and the timing couldn’t have been better. We are really looking forward to Anya getting a perfect new ear for Christmas.”
Roslyn Neely, Chief Executive at the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, said: “The Sick Kids Friends Foundation leapt at the chance to fund the 3D printer to support Ken and his team in undertaking this incredible and life-changing surgery.
“We exist to ensure children and young people’s lives are less interrupted by illness and that they have a more positive hospital experience, and providing grants for enhanced facilities and cutting edge equipment is just one of the many ways in which we do this.
“We are privileged to be involved with this innovative work which will have such a positive impact for Anya and many other children in the future”.