3D Printing Helps to Reconstruct a Shattered Face


Jon Fenton and his fiancé Rachel West were vacationing in Barcelona last summer when tragedy struck. Jon, who was then just 27, slipped and fell off the four-story hotel balcony – crushing every bone in his face and breaking four limbs.

He was hospitalized in Spain for six weeks before he was sent home to the UK. He needed to learn to walk again and required facial reconstructive surgery.

Surgeons at Queen’s Medical Centre used a 3D printer to create a model of Jon’s skull. The model allowed them to view the exact scope of the injuries, letting them plan the surgery out before the operation.

Daren Forward, who is consultant in orthopedic trauma at the QMC, said that Jon’s case was “Pretty much as bad as it gets.” After having fallen from four stories, Jon was lucky to be alive but, since his face took the majority of the impact, Jon’s brain wasn’t seriously injured.

“His face almost acted as a crumple zone for his head, but it meant that his brain wasn’t seriously injured and his chest and abdomen weren’t seriously injured. You need to be on the fifth floor or above for 50 per cent of people to die – the body is a pretty amazing thing,” said Dr. Forward.

During the 14-hour operation, surgeons re-broke and re-set almost every bone in his face, reconstructing them into the position that they were in before the accident.

The surgery was a success. While Jon still has another 18 months of work together with his doctors to help him walk again, and to regain full movement of his facial muscles, but Jon is optimistic, looking forward to a bright future and planning his wedding.