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Girl, 10, hopes to become first person in Britain to receive 3D printed ear grown in lab

Girl 10 hopes to become first person in Britain to


Girl, 10, hopes to become the first person in Britain to receive a new ear grown in a lab using 3D printing technology

  • Radiyah Miah, from Pembrokeshire, was born without a properly formed left ear
  • Her father Rana says receiving a 3D ‘bioprinted’ ear would boost her confidence
  • Scientists at Swansea University have launched a £2.5million three-year project to test the viability of the using the technology to help burns and cancer patients










A ten-year-old girl is set to become the first person in Britain to receive a 3D-bioprinted as part of a £2.5million research project.

Radiyah Miah, from Pembrokeshire, has a congenital condition known as microtia which means she was born without a properly formed left ear.

But scientists at Swansea University are working on technology which would see some of Radiya’s own cartilage being used to 3D ‘bioprint’ a new ear for her.

Researchers say she is at the top of the list to take part in the pioneering project which would see scientists use a small sample of cartilage cells, possibly from her nose, to create an living inner ear structure. 

The research is being led by Professor Iain Whitaker chair of Plastic Surgery at Swansea University Medical School and Surgical Specialty Lead for Health and Care Research Wales. 

The programme will focus on the development of 3D ‘bioprinted’ facial cartilage (e.g. ears and noses) using human cells and plant based materials for future treatment.

Radiyah Miah, 10, is set to be one of the first people in Britain to receive a 3D 'bioprinted' ear which will be created using her own cartilage cells as part of a new £2.5mn research project

Radiyah Miah, 10, is set to be one of the first people in Britain to receive a 3D ‘bioprinted’ ear which will be created using her own cartilage cells as part of a new £2.5mn research project

Trainee plastic surgeon Tom Jovic holds a 3D printed ear at the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University where a three-year £2.5million research project has been launched

Trainee plastic surgeon Tom Jovic holds a 3D printed ear at the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University where a three-year £2.5million research project has been launched

Radiyah’s father Rana said the treatment will help ‘boost her confidence, adding: ‘Girls like to tie their hair up and pierce their ears and to have two matching ears will be a positive thing.’

He told the BBC: ‘If it wasn’t for this type of technology, she would have to have a skin graft instead which would mean she’d have a big scar on her skull and also under her breast area where they would have gone to get the cartilage.

‘So she would have been left with a lot of scarring but by developing the ear in a lab then she will be scar-free.’

The technology will be used to help people who are either born without body parts, or live with facial scarring as a result of burns, trauma or cancer.

Pictured: A close-up of a bioprinted ear at the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University

Pictured: A close-up of a bioprinted ear at the Institute of Life Sciences at Swansea University

Patients living with loss of ears/noses have told researchers that existing plastic prostheses didn't feel 'part of them' but researchers hope to change this by using patients' own cartilage

Patients living with loss of ears/noses have told researchers that existing plastic prostheses didn’t feel ‘part of them’ but researchers hope to change this by using patients’ own cartilage

The programme will also examine the impact of facial scarring on mental health by analysing data from the world’s largest cohort of people living with this type of visible difference.

The three-year research project has been funded by the Scar Free Foundation who say one in 100 people in the UK have a significant facial difference which can have a profound effect on the mental health of patients

Patients living with loss of ears/noses have told researchers that existing plastic prostheses didn’t feel ‘part of them’ and would prefer that their own tissue is used for reconstruction.

Researchers say the programme will address this problem by creating a custom ‘cartilage’ scaffold which the patient’s own stem cells grow onto.

This avoids complications as well as the need to take cartilage from elsewhere in the body which would otherwise lead to painful surgery and further scarring.

Simon Weston CBE, of The Scar Free Foundation, suffered 46% burns during the Falklands War

Simon Weston CBE, of The Scar Free Foundation, suffered 46% burns during the Falklands War

Simon Weston CBE, Lead Ambassador for The Scar Free Foundation, suffered severe burns during the Falklands War.

He received skin grafts to treat his burns but at the time, the technology did not exist to reconstruct his nose and ears.

He said: ‘It’s fantastic that this research is taking place and what we are going to do is amazing. 

‘This new research – bioprinting ear and nose cartilage made from the patient’s own cells – would have made a big difference to me.

‘There simply wasn’t the research or capability at the time to rebuild my ears – I literally had to watch them fall off.

‘This research also avoids the need for skin grafts taken from other parts of the body – a process which itself can be very painful and leaves behind new scars.’

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