3D Printing and Advanced Technology Should Cut Back on Perceived Need to Travel Abroad for Medical Care
There have been many exciting innovations in medical 3D printing, most notably in surgery. One place that’s embracing the many groundbreaking applications of 3D printing is the United Arab Emirates (UAE): Dubai implemented a 3D Printing Strategy in early 2016, and the Dubai Health Authority recently announced that it will start using 3D printing technology for ultra-lightweight prosthetics and dental services. At the recent Arab Health Exhibition’s Leaders in Healthcare Conference, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, the wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, gave the keynote speech, and mentioned the rise of smart technologies in healthcare. So, with all of this innovation in 3D medical printing already widely available and appreciated in the UAE, a surgeon at an Abu Dhabi hospital doesn’t understand why Emiratis would rather travel overseas to undergo surgery.
Dr. John Devine is a surgeon at Mafraq Hospital, a 451-bed referral treatment institute located about 35 km southeast of the UAE capital. It is a SEHA hospital; SEHA, a phonetic rendering of the Arabic word for ‘health,’ is the corporate marketing name for the Abu Dhabi Health Service company, which owns and operates all of the public hospitals and clinics of the UAE. Mafraq is the only Abu Dhabi hospital that uses 3D printing, and has been doing so for over two years in the reconstructive surgery department.
Dr. Devine, a maxillofacial, head, and neck surgeon, recently used the hospital’s 3D printing technology to help rebuild a young woman’s jaw after a tumor took over the right side of her jaw. He rebuilt the jaw for his patient, 20-year-old Nouf, using bone that was taken from her leg. The bone was broken, and then rebuilt for her jaw, using a 3D printer for the specifications.
Because most patients choose to go elsewhere for treatment, Dr. Devine has only performed five of the operations like the one he did for Nouf’s jaw, including what was believed to be the first surgery of its kind in Abu Dhabi back in 2015 for Mohammed Al Mazem. This is, according to Dr. Devine, the most advanced technology out there, so he doesn’t understand why, with the obvious level of cutting-edge technology and expertise already available in the UAE, Emiratis still decide to travel elsewhere for these types of surgeries.
Dr. Devine said, “When you have a tumour that was removed from the face or neck, you have to rebuild primarily for function and quality and appearance.”
“I don’t know why. The standard of the unit here is as high as anywhere in the world. Everything can be done here in the UAE. We have the latest technology and the best expertise,” said Dr. Devine. “We can honestly say we have the best standards, whether it is post-operative care or intensive care or nursing.”
In Dr. Devine’s opinion, Emiratis should not be boarding planes, and should instead be looking closer to home for these types of advanced treatments and surgeries. One person who agrees with him is Nouf’s father. He says that he did not even consider taking his daughter overseas for her surgery.
He also thinks it helps to stay home for major surgeries so patients can be closer to friends and families, and be in a familiar place. It’s like when a basketball team is playing a game at home on their own court, and they are said to have the home court advantage.
Nouf’s father said, “When they told me that my daughter had a large tumour and they had to remove her jaw, we were shocked. Every Emirati’s first thought is to travel for treatment. All my friends and family told me to take Nouf abroad. But I asked doctors and they told me that Dr. John was an expert and one of the best surgeons in the world, so why do I need to go abroad if the best doctor is here? I’ll listen to doctors when it comes to treatment options, not to family and friends.”
“A part of treatment, I believe, is psychological,” said Nouf’s father. “When Nouf was in the hospital, her mother and her entire family was by her side. Her friends came and we were all around her. When you are abroad, you have one or two people at the most, you don’t know the culture or language and are alone. It’s very depressing and lonely. Our country has offered us everything and yet we insist on going abroad. It’s unnecessary and a waste of money.”
Nouf was released from the hospital earlier this month, and is ready to go back to school.
“My friends came to visit me in the hospital and didn’t know the difference. They didn’t know which was my real jaw and which was my fake jaw,” said Nouf.
Clearly, the 3D printing medical technology in the UAE is just as good as it is elsewhere, as we see another instance of 3D printing technology keeping the focus on local communities’ self-sufficiency. Discuss in the 3D Printing and Medical Care forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: The National, Khaleej Times]
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