Titanium Paws: Anyone who ever watched the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man back in the late 1970s remembers the opening words, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Now in the 2000s we do have the technology.
Not necessarily as “super” as actor Lee Majors in the series, but certainly enough able to rebuild the lives of not only people but animals as well.
Two cats in Siberian Russia have received four 3D printed titanium paws enabling them to walk, run, and play after losing their feet to frostbite.
The most recent case is the story of the grey cat, Dymka, a full blooded British Shorthair, who was found in October of 2018 alongside the road in Novokuznetsk and taken to a clinic where the veterinarian had to amputate all four of her paws, most of her tail and her ears before gangrene set in.
He then sent the cat to Dr. Sergei Gorshkov in Novosibirsk. According to The Moscow Times, until recently she would have had to be euthanized; but the veterinarian joined together with Tomsk Polytechnic University in Tomsk, Russia to provide her with new feet.
The scientists at the University took CT scans of her legs to produce data that was fed into a computer and made 3D printed titanium rods. Live Science explains that Dr. Gorshkov fused the rods to her leg bones using a calcium phosphate coating to reduce the chance of infection.
The paws were fashioned from a flexible material with a textured underside. Dymka had her front feet done, and, after seeing that her body accepted the prosthesis, her back feet were done by July of 2019.
In December of 2019, a video was posted to YouTube by the clinic that spent six months nursing her back to health. The video shows the kitty stretching like all cats do, walking around, and playing with a blanket’s fringe.
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, when Dymka awakened from the anesthetic she immediately tried to stand up and in just a few days was able to get around by herself on here new titanium paws.
When the woman who rescued her came to adopt Dymka, the cat kept rubbing up against her and seemed to remember her even after six months at the clinic.
The Siberian Times tells the story of Ryzhik, a ginger tabby who was found in Tomsk in the January cold of – 40° in 2016. His feet and ears also had to be removed, and he was taken to Dr. Gorshkov who did the first procedure with 3D printed titanium rods and paws.
The rods were inserted into a drilled opening in the bone and held with pins. According to Dr. Gorshkov, “The limbs have fully connected with the skin and bone. The part of the limb that goes inside the body is spongy, the bone tissue grows inside it.”
The cat never tried to get the feet off, and, after some adjustment period, Ryzhik has accepted his new feet and has been doing very well in his home at Gorshkov’s clinic.
3D printing is making remarkable strides helping with veterinary medicine. Recently, Fred, a female tortoise in Brazil, received a new 3D printed shell courtesy of Dr. Rodrigo Rabello after she lost most of her own in a fire, according to HuffPost.
More and more animals have been given new hope, and 3D Printing Industry tells of ten including Buttercup the duck in Tennessee who was fitted with a new 3D printed foot to replace her deformed one thanks to Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary.
An American Bald Eagle from Alaska, Beauty, received a new 3D beak at Birds of Prey Northwest in Idaho after hers was shot off by a poacher, and Grecia, a toucan from Costa Rica who was beaten by a group of heartless teenagers and lost the top part of his beak received a 3D replacement due to a crowdfunding campaign set up by Luciano Lacayo and ZOOAVE Animal Rescue Center.
While none of these animals can be reintroduced to the wild, thanks to 3D printing technology they can lead long and happy lives.