On the 29th of June, 2020, we celebrated the inauguration of the FACES project. This is a Global Grant project to provide facial prosthetics with 3D printing at a cancer treatment hospital in Jahu, Brazil.
It is good to see the acknowledgements on the plaque to the Rotary Districts, the Rotary Clubs and The Rotary Foundation who have funded this amazing project.
Dr Cassiano Alves Ferreira Neto, is a dentist and facial prosthetics specialist, who works at the Hospital Amarol Carvalho, a cancer treatment hospital in the city of Jahu, which is in the State of São Paulo. Many of his patients are disfigured as a result of cancer surgery, having lost an eye, ear, nose, palette or part of their face. Until the introduction of the 3D printers, Cassiano treated 40 patients a year, making each prosthetic by hand. With the introduction of 3D printers, the number of patients that will be treated has doubled.
One evening in 2018, Dr Cassiano was telling his friend Nilton about his work with facial prosthesis and his dream about improving its process with 3D printing. Nilton exclaimed “My son is a dynamic production engineer, specialising in medical devices applications. and he could help you!” Nilton’s son, Henrique Toste Melo, who lives in Brasilia, agreed to design and develop a system to create facial prosthetics with a 3D printer. Henrique and and his technician, Joâo, became key players in the project, working without any fee, as a gift to the city where they were born.
The new system requires only three consultations for each patient, compared with nine consultations for the manual system.
The hospital agreed to fund the treatment of 80 patients per year, but the equipment purchase was to be funded by charitable donations. This is a common model in the Brazilian health-care system.
The very first 3D procedure
Funding the project
Cassiano’s Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Jahu-Leste agreed to sponsor the project to purchase the equipment required. The Rotary Foundation would fund half of the US$32,000 needed, but it was a condition that 30% of the remaining funds were to be donated by Rotary clubs outside Brazil.
At Easter 2019, a group of eight Rotarians from New Zealand were visiting Jahu as part of a Rotary Friendship Exchange. This visit to Jahu was one of the keys to the success of this project. Jahu-Leste Rotary Club needed an overseas sponsor for the project, but did not have any overseas Rotary contacts. They heard that Jahu-Norte Rotary Club was hosting a team from New Zealand and that, at the last moment, an alternative host home was required. Cassiano and his partner Marilia eagerly offered hospitality, and thus were able to share with the New Zealand team their vision for the facial prosthetics project.
Soon afterwards, Havelock North Rotary Club agreed to co-sponsor the project and were successful in obtaining District Designated Funds from the 9930 District Rotary Foundation Committee.
Marilia Werneck is Cassiano’s partner. She was originally ask to join the project committee as their translator. Jahu is a rural city and few of the citizens speak English. Marilia’s translation skills became a vital part of the project and she became the driving force to guide the cooperation between Rotary clubs in Brazil and New Zealand. During the project, Marilia became a Rotarian and is a most valued friend of Rotarians in New Zealand.
One wonderful story that was told at the inauguration, was that Katrina Allison, who until recently was a member of the Rotary Club of Rotorua, made a beautiful quilt and sent it to Brazil to be auctioned in aid of the project. The quilt arrived some 2-3 days after the biggest annual fund raising auction for the cancer hospital and so it became the perfect gift to the auctioneer, who donated the selling price of two steers which were sold for US$2,000!
The new Facial Prosthetics room
It is wonderful what can come from a Rotary Friendship Exchange. Let us hope that when the covid-19 crisis is over, D9930 Rotarians can enjoy many more friendship exchanges.