Jordan 3D lab prints limbs for war wounded


A picture taken on January 16th shows a 3-year-old child using her new 3D-printed prosthetic arm at the Doctors Without Borders reconstructive surgery hospital in Amman. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

A picture taken on January 16th shows a 3-year-old child using her new 3D-printed prosthetic arm at the Doctors Without Borders reconstructive surgery hospital in Amman. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Iraqi soldier Abdullah lost his left hand fighting the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), but now he has a prosthetic one -- thanks to a 3D printing lab in Jordan.

Abdullah was wounded in a mine blast as Iraqi forces battled to oust the group from Mosul last year. His right hand also was seriously wounded.

The 22-year-old is one of a group of Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni amputees to benefit from a 3D-printing prosthetics clinic at a hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

"It is not easy to replace a hand, but at least the new device gives me some autonomy and means. I do not rely too much on my brother to eat," said Abdullah, who asked not to use his real name.

Abdullah said he had been transferred from Mosul to a hospital in Erbil before heading to Jordan.

"Now I feel better," he said, managing a small smile. "I hope I can heal my right hand too."

The 3D printing technique allows the team to create simple upper limbs without moving parts, slashing the costs of manufacturing advanced, custom-made prosthetic limbs, according to MSF.

Prosthetics production centre

The MSF Foundation, a wing of the charity dedicated to research and development, set up a prosthetics production centre in Jordan's Irbid last June.

A team of medics and technicians use the technique to help people born with genetic deformations as well as war wounded from across the region.

Doctors start by taking photos and measurements and sending them to the laboratory in Irbid, 100 kilometres north of Amman.

The data is entered into a system that designers use to create a virtual model of the limb, which is then printed and sent to MSF's Al-Mowasah hospital in Amman for fitting.

Several organisations have developed 3D printing for amputees in recent years, but MSF says its project is a first in the Middle East.

The clinic aims to give orthopaedic care to as many people as possible affected by the region's conflicts. The project also benefits people born with deformities.

Project co-ordinator Pierre Moreau said the clinic has treated 15 Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis, Palestinians and Jordanians since its launch.

"We chose Jordan because we have one of the biggest hospitals and most advanced, and it is a stable place in the middle of a war region so we have access to patients from Syria, Iraq and Yemen," he said.

A fraction of the cost

The 3D devices range in cost from $20 to $50 -- a fraction of the cost of conventional prosthetic devices, which can cost thousands of dollars.

"You can design something that can suit this patient and is very specific to the activity of the patient," Moreau said.

The new technique was developed by MSF in collaboration with "Fab Lab", a digital manufacturing laboratory in Jordan.

Another beneficiary was Ibrahim al Mahamid, from Daraa in southern Syria, who suffered injuries to his left hand in a bombing raid in 2013.

A 33-year-old taxi driver, he had the hand amputated at a field hospital in Syria before moving to Jordan.

"The new prosthesis has given me hope to be able to go back to work and take care of family expenses," he said.

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2 Comment(s)

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My right hand is amputated because of the terrorist ISIS gangs. Is there a prosthetic arm that can restore my health to me? Here's my number: 96407829160102. Hope Doctors Without Borders will consider my request. Thanks to all those who do good.


Good work! You’re making devices for correcting the spine using this technology for an 8-year old child. How much will it cost? And how can we contact you? We live in Irbid.