Health Stories

Doctors printed me a new face!

"Some friends didn't even recognise me"

Eireann was saved by a hi-tech solution.

Here, Eireann, 21, tells the story in her own words.

Click, click.

‘What are you doing?’ my friend asked.

‘I’m clicking my jaw into place,’ I said.

Since I was 14, my jaw hurt. Clicking it relieved the pain temporarily. Then, at 17, an MRI scan revealed I had rheumatoid arthritis.

To my horror, I was told my jaw was crumbling.

Before the surgery
Before the surgery

Eventually, I couldn’t chew or open my mouth properly.

When I was 20, my surgeon Dr George Dimitroulis suggested an amazing solution – a brand new 3D-printed titanium jaw. It sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie!

It’d be made by a machine that worked like a printer, but in 3D. Based on scans, it would be an exact fit for me.

‘I’ll make incisions under your neck, by your earlobes and inside your mouth, then pull up your face,’ he said. Sounds like a face-lift! I thought.

My 3D-printed jaw
My 3D-printed jaw

The month before surgery, I piled on 10 kilos as I wouldn’t be able to eat much after.

Last January, in a seven-hour surgery, my jaw joints were replaced with 3D-printed ones. It was so new, other surgeons came to watch.

I woke with braces on my teeth and elastic bands to hold my jaw shut. For five days I couldn’t speak or eat, losing seven kilos in that time.

Back home, I squirted soup into my mouth and learnt to speak without moving my lips.

‘You could work as a ventriloquist,’ a friend teased.

Me now
Me now

It was hard not to talk and if I laughed, it was agony!

When the swelling went down, some friends didn’t even recognise me.

At my 21st birthday party, I smiled for the camera after avoiding photos for years.

Visiting Europe, I set off an alarm at the Eiffel Tower.

‘I have a titanium jaw,’ I said to the guard. Then his jaw dropped!

Now, my bite is perfect and my jaw is pain free. I’m so glad I had the surgery. In fact, you could say I’m over-jawed!

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life, on sale now.

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