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Sea turtle given a 3D-printed jaw implant after boat accident

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Human activity almost killed this loggerhead sea turtle in Turkey, but a group of doctors and researchers are looking to right that wrong with a 3D-printed prosthetic. The turtle, which is marked as an endangered species, was struck by a boat propeller while swimming in its natural habitat. The accident shattered the animal's upper and lower jaw, leaving the turtle unable to eat on its own. That's when a group at Pamukkale University in Turkey decided to explore its options for healing the animal and bringing it back into the wild.

They decided a 3D-printed replacement jaw was the best option. The team partnered with BTech, a Turkish biotechnology company specializing in 3D-printed prosthetics, and after two months of research and development, a medical-grade titanium jaw was born. And just a few weeks ago, veterinarians and surgeons installed the jaw during a two-and-a-half hour surgery that's said to be the very first of its kind. Most importantly, doctors say that the animal's body has not yet rejected the surgery. It will still be some time before the turtle's released back to the wild, but when that day comes, it should be able to fend for itself.